VOL. NO: 48      DATE:
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P.W. Botha, who was the face of white South Africa as president at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle, died at his home on Tuesday aged 90, the South African Press Association reported. Botha was toppled in a cabinet rebellion in 1989 and later replaced by F.W. de Klerk, who repudiated almost everything the finger-wagging hardliner had stood for, including the laws that were the foundation of apartheid. 

Although Botha's security forces killed more than 2,000 people and an estimated 25,000 people were detained without trial and often tortured, he refused to apologise for apartheid and denied he had known about the torture and assassinations. 

He declined to appear when summoned by the state-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which in its final report in 2003 blamed him for much of the horror of the last decade of white rule. 

Since leaving office he had lived a quiet life with his second wife Barbara in a lagoon-side home on the Western Cape coast for almost two decades, occasionally emerging to launch broadsides at the African National Congress, which has ruled the nation since 1994. First post-apartheid President Nelson Mandel in a tribute said "While to many Mr Botha will remain a symbol of apartheid, we also remember him for the steps he took to pave the way towards the eventual peacefully negotiated settlement in our country." 

Dennis Goldberg, ANC activist imprisoned during the apartheid era was less charitable."They called him the Great Crocodile I will not weep tears for this crocodile. It would be hypocritical. He promised to make a land fit for all its citizens. He put them in prison. He let loose his torturers. He used his army of occupation in the townships. Children were shot down in 1976 when he was in the cabinet as minister of defence. He attacked Angola. He occupied Namibia. He destabilised Mozambique. He bombed Zimbabwe. He bombed Zambia. 

"He was ruthless. He claimed to uphold human rights. He denied human rights. I will not mourn for him."

This was a daily scene when P.W. Botha was president in South Africa


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