Roelof Frederik “Pik” Botha, who served as South Africa’s apartheid-era Foreign Affairs Minister for 17 years until 1994 and then joined Nelson Mandela's Cabinet, passed away at a Pretoria hospital on Thursday night. He was 86.
“I think the contribution that he made … to lasting peace in this country is something recognised,” his son Roelof Botha told the media.
Botha was described by some as a good man working for a bad government despite years defending the apartheid system. He was known for trying to get his party to accept broader political rights for black South Africans.
As you know, originally we were enemies, Botha told the BBC in 2013. ”From our point of view, (Mandela) led an organisation which we regarded as a terrorist organisation and they saw themselves as freedom fighters.
Of course all that had to change. It is not always that simple and easy to change mental attitudes, mindsets but eventually it did change, said Botha, who served for two years as minister of mineral and energy affairs under Mandela.
Botha joined Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) in 2000.
The party says it viewed him as one of the few former National Party leaders who realised that apartheid was wrong and a crime against humanity.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the now ruling party is saddened by his passing. “As the ANC, although Botha was the former minister of the National Party administration, we acknowledge and appreciate his positive contribution towards building a new and better South Africa.”
Vilified around the world as the visible face of an oppressing régime, he drew 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. There was no blood relation between them.