Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng says people should not focus only on the negative side of the late former Foreign Affairs Minister Pik Botha. He has been laid to rest in a private ceremony at Heatherdale cemetery in Pretoria.
He died over a week ago, aged 86.
Mogoeng says even great leaders have a negative side that should not be focused on. “Well, almost every one of us is a person of two tales, isn’t it? It really doesn’t matter how great the leader you are. There are those who say Mandela was a very powerful and wonderful leader and I am one of those. But there are others, black and white, who think differently about him.
“So it is true he served in the apartheid government, but we can’t just focus on what seems to be or what is negative about him. The good side of his life must also be told and appreciated,” adds Mogoeng.
Botha had a long tenure as minister since 1977 until 1996 when he retired from public life.
His son Roelof Botha also paid tribute to his father, saying his father was committed to change.
“My dad was the legal advisor to Govender at the time and Tigal Mulder flew back from the United Nations. He told Hilgaard in no uncertain terms to tell the prime minister of this country that we should get out of South West Africa as quickly as possible because blood will flow. He didn’t want to see that. There is nothing more destructive that can hit the country than a civil war. Dad wanted a democratic solution to this country so that we can look forward to hope and I think the ANC’s farewell gift to him was the election of Cyril Ramaphosa. Thank you very much for that because we need this type of change.”
Botha was also praised for his role in ensuring that there is smooth transition from apartheid regime to the democratic government when he made the utterance that he was prepared to serve under a black president. Speakers at the memorial service said his change of heart during his political career is ample proof that a person can change to be good.
Prominent figures such as former President F W de Klerk, United Democratic Movement leader, Bantu Holomisa, Political Economist Moeletsi Mbeki and African National Congress member Mathews Phosa, among others, attended the memorial service.
He has been described as a dedicated family man, a loyal servant of the community and a believer. Botha’s long time personal assistance, Vic Zazeraj says Botha was a creative person.
“He was preoccupied with the idea of flirting with the nature of time, passing of time and it found expression in many of the poems he wrote such as Wie is ek? (who am I? ) that Prof Stephane spoke about a little earlier, he studied the concept of time. Time was a preoccupation of his and he looked for explanations offered by modern physics among others.”
Political Economist Moeletsi Mbeki described him as a seasoned politician. Mbeki says Botha was a tough negotiator.
“So I thought why negotiate with your enemies in such a weak position. Pik, however, explained that the best time to negotiate was when one was in a position of strength. He said the National Party government could hold the line militarily against its black adversaries for another ten years. The more immediate threat however, was actually the whites.”
Former President F W de Klerk says Botha remained committed to the betterment of South Africa until his death. He says Botha will be missed.
“Pik Botha was a highly valued colleague. Our whole political careers we walked hand in hand together. He was a brilliant man and he served South Africa extremely well. I will miss his presence. His ever deep interest in what was happening. Until recently he would call me up and say F W it’s for you to do something. Something bad has happened. What can we do to change this? How can we rectify this problem? He remained committed till right to the end.”
Below is the full Memorial Service :