Botha, apartheid-era South Africa min­is­ter, dies at 86

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Christo­pher Torchia The Associated Press

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Roelof “Pik” Botha, the last for­eign min­is­ter of South Africa’s apartheid era and a con­tra­dic­tory fig­ure who staunchly de­fended white mi­nor­ity rule but rec­og­nized that change was in­evitable, died on Fri­day at age 86.

Botha died in “the early hours of the morn­ing” at his home af­ter an ill­ness, his son, also named Roelof, told South Africa’s ENCA news out­let.

In­ter­na­tion­ally, Botha was the most vis­i­ble rep­re­sen­ta­tive of apartheid at the height of protests and sanc­tions against the racist rule that ended with Nel­son Man­dela’s elec­tion as the first black pres­i­dent in 1994.

Of­ten will­ing to pas­sion­ately de­bate crit­ics, the long­time for­eign min­is­ter was vil­i­fied around the world while draw­ing the ire of his own boss, Pres­i­dent P.W. Botha, when he said in 1986 that South Africa might one day have a black leader.

“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.

Pik Botha, who was not re­lated to the apartheid-era pres­i­dent, later served for two years as min­is­ter of min­eral and en­ergy af­fairs un­der Man­dela, and said in 2000 that he would join the African Na­tional Congress, the rul­ing party that had led the move­ment against white mi­nor­ity rule for decades.

Botha was “one of the few” in the apartheid struc­ture who re­al­ized “at an early stage that apartheid was a wrong and crime against hu­man­ity,” the ANC said in a con­do­lence mes­sage.

He will be re­mem­bered for “his sup­port for South Africa’s tran­si­tion to democ­racy and for his ser­vice in the first demo­cratic ad­min­is­tra­tion,” the of­fice of Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa quoted him as say­ing.

Apartheid’s last pres­i­dent, F.W. de Klerk, said Botha was a “unique and colour­ful per­son­al­ity” who ad­vo­cated re­form, con­sti­tu­tional ne­go­ti­a­tions and the re­lease of Man­dela from prison dur­ing in­tense dis­cus­sions within the white mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment in the 1980s.

Pik BOTHA Passed away

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