Friday, November 3, 2006

Death of the other "Crocodile" -- the wretched one

Almost unnoticed by many parts of the MSM was the news that Pieter W Botha -- the ironman President of South Africa during much of the 1980s and imposed the so-called "state of emergency" that saw many reporters imprisoned without charge and made the conditions of apartheid so bad that the world finally woke up and imposed trade sanctions against the Cape of Good Hope -- died this past Tuesday at the age of 90.

Unlike many of the other architects of segregation in the country, who fessed up in whole or in part to Desmond Tutu's Truth and Reconciliation Commission to their atrocities, Botha refused to admit any guilt. He saw the end of racial separation as the beginning of communism. In fact, he refused to testify at all, which led to a contempt of court charge -- later tossed out on a technicality.

WaPo's Lynne Duke, who was posted in Johannesburg in the years after the rise of Nelson Mandela, has written her personal memories of the "Croc" -- it's a very interesting insight into who the man was and why he believed what he did. For myself, I don't mourn Botha's passing so much because of who he was and what he did but rather for just how misguided and wrong he was. He wasn't so much evil as he was entirely wretched.

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