South Africa has bid farewell Wednesday to former apartheid-era president P.W. Botha, who died at his home last week at the age of 90.

President Thabo Mbeki attended the funeral in the town of George. In recent days, Mr. Mbeki praised his late predecessor, saying that once Mr. Botha realized the futility of trying to preserve the apartheid system, he knew South Africa's people "had no alternative but to reach out to one another."

The gestures have angered some blacks who recalled brutal repression of his African National Congress party during Mr. Botha's turbulent presidency.

Former president F.W. de Klerk, who succeeded Mr. Botha and repudiated his hard-line policies, also attended the funeral.

Mr. Botha led South Africa's white minority government from 1978 to 1989 at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle.

He was nicknamed the "great crocodile" for his tough and uncompromising stance on politics.

While in power, he resisted mounting international pressure to end the apartheid system. During his presidency, thousands of people were detained without trial, and many were tortured and killed.

The country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up in the 1990s, blamed Mr. Botha for much of the horrors of the last decade of white rule. But his failing health helped him to escape prosecution.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.