12 October 2018

South Africa: Pik Botha, International Face of Apartheid, Dies At 86

A member of both apartheid and post-apartheid governments, Botha died at his home in Pretoria. Botha was known both as a reformer and as a defender of apartheid.

Pik Botha, a key figure in South Africa's transition from apartheid, died at the age of 86, his son said Friday. The longest-serving foreign minister in the world, Botha spent more than a decade defending apartheid, despite being considered a reformer and then serving in Nelson Mandela's first post-apartheid government.

Roelof Frederik Botha was born in 1932, and began his career as a diplomat in South Africa's embassies in Sweden, Washington, and to the United Nations before becoming a politician.

Botha was foreign minister from 1977 to the end of white rule in 1994. He spent the bulk of his career defending South Africa's brutal, racist apartheid regime to the rest of the world.

He also spoke up for minority rights at times, however, earning the rebuke of President P.W. Botha (no relation) in 1986 when he said: "As long as we can agree in a suitable way on the protection of minority rights without a racial sting ... then it would possibly become unavoidable that in future you might have a black president of this country."

After the end of apartheid, Botha hailed Nelson Mandela as the healing figure that South Africa needed, and served as minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs in Mandela's transition government.

He died at his home in Pretoria.

es/kms (AP, Reuters)

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