Apartheid's Chief Killer

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He arrogantly said that South Africa would be "in the drain" by now if Blacks had gained power in the 1960s. Botha remained unrepentant throughout his life and only resurfaced to attack the government of President Thabo Mbeki.


(Unrepentant mass Killer Botha won't be missed).

Commentary: The death of former apartheid hard-liner PW Botha on Oct 31 at his home in the Western Cape was met with the indifference of silence and without a premium that is often bestowed on politicians, stars and celebrities when they die.

South Africans did not come to a complete stop—neither did people in the entire southern African region who endured destabilization acts of sabotage orchestrated by PW Botha and his security agents.

It is doubtful if his death will be followed by weepy anniversaries in the future. News about his death did not send any shockwaves and political analysts say he is unlikely to get a stone in any monument park in South Africa or a scholarship in his name, or at worst, as some put it, a commemorative patch in his honor.

"It’s painful to say this, cold and cruel fact, but as they say about the truth, it hurts," said a Zimbabwean political commentator. "Many people died because of PW Botha's policies and war machinery. I've no tears for him but I will not forget his brutal legacy."

No sane person will stand in the pulpit and call him 'baasskop' or a hero. In death, the memory of PW Botha will be tied to his brutal Apartheid rule, which led to the death of thousands and detention of more than 25, 000 others without trial and often accompanied by torture.

To make matters worse, the architect of the segregatory system and violent destabilization policies against Front Line states –Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania—remained an unrepentant racist until his demise.

This was in spite of the hand of reconciliation extended to him by Blacks when South Africa after the first democratic elections in 1994. Early this year, in a filmed interview which was snubbed by a string of radio and television networks, Botha said  he did not regret a moment of his decade in power and denied Blacks were considered inferior under white supremacist rule.

He arrogantly said that South Africa would be "in the drain" by now if Blacks had gained power in the 1960s. Botha remained unrepentant throughout his life and only resurfaced to attack the government of President Thabo Mbeki. His highly repressive rule during his 1978-1987 tenure, his contempt for the new Black government by refusing to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which probed abuses of the past, the destabilization policies in Front Line states and his support for extremist white movements all made him unpopular.

Because of his unrepentant attitude, people never really warmed up to his personality and many never cared much upon hearing news about his death. He was mostly relegated to the shadows of his brutal legacy in which he sought to crush liberation movements -the ANC, South African Communist Party and the PAC. A general news survey of the South African media showed that Botha's death was not part of people's plans and thoughts and his status in the minds of the Black majority never changed much.

President Mbeki's teenage son and a brother were killed by Apartheid agents, but his government extended an olive branch and offered a state-assisted funeral for Botha.

Africans will never cease to hold him responsible for the heinous crimes and injustices he perpetrated against Blacks inside South Africa and across the borders in Frontline States.

Tsiko is The Black Star News' Southern Africa correspondent based in Harare.

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