Gaborone – South Africa's High Commission to Botswana, Mdu Lembede, has reportedly said that the late Botswana president Sir Ketumile Masire was instrumental in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.According to SABC, Lembede said Masire "created a passage for freedom fighters".Masire died on Thursday night after he was hopitalised last weekend in a critical condition.He was aged 91. "He did not only do it for South Africans. It's on the record that he did it for the region. I mean all the leaders from countries around the region, at one stage or the other, they went through Botswana, whether it Sam Nojuma from Namibia, Robert Mugabe, Samora Machel in Mozambique, they all came here. "And they were taken care of, and he was the person in the forefront, and he was seeing to it that people are safe," Lembede was quoted as saying.Meanwhile, in a statement on Friday, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said it was saddened by the passing of Masire. "We have lost another great leader in Sir Ketumile Masire, a teacher who cared deeply about youth development to the very end."The foundation quoted what Mandela said during a state banquet for Masire on April 23, 1996: "Our country has much to learn from Botswana - both from your towering successes and your efforts to deal with the difficulties. All these attributes have made Botswana, and you Mr President, a natural and capable leader of the region's collective efforts towards growth and development, within the framework of SADC. We also value your leadership in the region's efforts to promote peace and stability on our sub-continent and further afield."Masire was the president of Botswana from 1980 to 1998.He led various diplomatic initiatives in Africa, including chairing a panel that investigated the 1994 Rwanda genocide, and co-ordinating the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue."In all these spheres, South Africa stands ready to work with Botswana and other neighbours to attain the best for our peoples."In his honour, the Nelson Mandela Foundation will continue to work with the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation through the "Caring4Girls" Initiative in Botswana, and Mandela Day Libraries in an effort to deepen work he was passionate about to further youth development," read the statement.