Hero or oppressor? Pik Botha's death sparks apartheid debate in South Africa

Lester Mason
October 14, 2018

He did not endear himself during the era of PW Botha.

Pik Botha, who became the global face of South Africa's reviled apartheid government as Pretoria's minister of foreign affairs, has died aged 86 after a lengthy illness, the eNCA news network reported on Friday, citing his son Piet Botha.

In 1986 Botha predicted that South Africa might one day have a black president, a statement that earned him a stern rebuke from President P.W. Botha, who was no relation.

Botha passed away at a Pretoria hospital on Thursday night.

Botha was a controversial figure during his long political career, initially defending and selling Apartheid to the worldwide community, but declaring his support for President Thabo Mbeki and the ANC in 2000.

He served as a minister in Mr Mandela's first post-apartheid government, praising the president as a healing figure.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation says despite South Africa's complex history, the country must remember the role Pik Botha played in establishing democracy.

President Ramaphosa conveyed his condolences to family‚ friends and former colleagues of Botha.

He worked to build a coalition of African states that would work with the apartheid regime, but was ultimately unsuccessful as the continent turned on the apartheid state.

"Merely because you are riding on a plane doesn't mean that you agree with the pilot's decisions", Botha said in a 1996 interview with peace advocate Padraig O'Malley. He has said he opposed the party's decision.

In April 1977, he was appointed minister of foreign affairs and represented the constituency of Westdene in Johannesburg.

"The other one was to say the things I did say to change people's minds and to try and be a factor in the transformation that took place", Botha said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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