Former Foreign Minister Pik Botha File picture: Sasa Kralj/AP

Johannesburg - South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) on Friday says it is saddened by the death of apartheid-era foreign affairs minister Pik Botha, hailing him for helping build the democratic government post-1994.

"The ANC viewed Botha as one of the few from the erstwhile Nationalist Party (NP) who recognised at an early stage that apartheid was a wrong and crime against humanity. As the former National Party foreign affairs minister in a moment of excitement, he predicted a black president of the Republic of South Africa in the near future," the party said in a statement.

"In the early days of our democracy, the ANC reached out to former apartheid ‘verligtes’ (the doves) like Botha, within the context of building a new South Africa and offered him a role in the government of national unity. While some of the apartheid architects continued to undermine the gains of democracy post-1994 by fueling racial tensions, as a part of his new-found enlightenment Botha, joined the ANC in Tshwane in early 2000.''

The National Party minister-turned-democrat died in Pretoria on Thursday evening. He was 86 years old. 

African News Agency/ANA