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PW Botha: Reaction in quotes
PW Botha
Former President PW Botha died at his home in Cape Town
Reactions in quotes to the death of former South Africa President PW Botha, known by Afrikaners as the Great Crocodile, who was in office at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle.

He died at his home in the Cape at the age of 90 after 17 years in retirement.

First post-apartheid President Nelson Mandela

"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."

Last apartheid-era President FW de Klerk

"Personally, my relationship with PW Botha was often strained.
Have Your Say
As a black person who had to endure his worldview, it was extremely painful
Pablo Naicker, Basel, Switzerland

I did not like his overbearing leadership style and was opposed to the intrusion of the State Security Council system into virtually every facet of government.

"It was under his leadership that the government first made contact with Nelson Mandela and ANC leaders in exile. I should like to honour PW Botha for the enormous contribution that he made to preparing the way to the new South Africa."

Serving President Thabo Mbeki

"Mr Botha took over the reigns of government at a difficult time in the history of our country. It stands to his credit that when he realised the futility of fighting against what was right and inevitable, he, in his own way, realised that South Africans had no alternative but to reach out to one another."

Dennis Goldberg, ANC activist imprisoned during the apartheid era

"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."

Ex-Foreign Minister Pik Botha

"He was full of humour, wit, that sort of thing but when it came to official work he was a very effective organiser. Temperamental at times, I think he was sometimes a bit on the authoritarian side, yet he gave me a relatively free hand."

Anti-apartheid MP Helen Suzman

"He was never a friend of mine. In fact, he was my bete noire when I was in parliament. He was very irritable, bad-tempered. There were of course a number of important changes introduced during his regime. These were important step forwards.

"He was not enormously intelligent, but he had enough sense to realise that change would have to come because the black resistance was gearing up considerably and the opposition of the international community was growing very strong."

Peter Hain, UK minister and former anti-apartheid campaigner

"To give him his credit he actually spoke to Nelson Mandela, it came to nothing, he didn't have the courage or the ability or the vision to take it forward, but he was part of the cracking of that once omnipotent apartheid machine. He, in a sense, was the first to recognise that change was on the way, but couldn't actually deliver it, or was not willing to be part of it."

Tokyo Sexwale, former Gauteng premier and Robben Island prisoner

"We should not forget the kind of regime he represented, he was ruthless, he was brutal, he was a leader of apartheid during the harshest years of that regime, the sad truth is that he is leaving with many secrets which he should have revealed perhaps during the time of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission."

Obituary: PW Botha
31 Oct 06 |  Africa
PW Botha implicated in murders
15 Jul 99 |  Africa
P W Botha: The 'Great Crocodile'
30 Oct 98 |  Truth and Reconciliation
Country profile: South Africa
20 Sep 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: South Africa
20 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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