1981 Pik Botha

Unlike Jimmy Kruger, who infamously said that Steve Biko’s death left him cold, the demise last week of Pik Botha at the age of 86 really gets my goat. 

Don't get me wrong. I didn't suddenly wake up last Saturday - a day after Botha crossed over to the other side - and find that I was necrophobic. Far from it. My heart bleeds that the South African Struggle for liberation was led down the proverbial garden path. We were fooled, hoodwinked. 

The man takes too many secrets to the grave with him. There’s a picture of him at the signing of the Nkomati Accord with “Die Groot Krokodil” to his left, Samora Machel further left, looking skyward, and Pik’s bell-bottom suit pants almost caricature him as knock-kneed. He was not; it was probably just the wind photo-bombing the shot. 

This 1984 accord was a dud. In his eternal wisdom, the late great Samora must have known that the agreement was not worth the piece of paper it was written on. His end of the bargain was that he would keep the South African dogs of war against apartheid out of Mozambique; his blood brothers, people he broke bread with in the Kongwa camps of Morogoro, Tanzania. 

In turn, Pik and his ilk promised Samora that they’d cut their lifeline to Renamo.
Their word carried the weight of a wolf keeping watch over sheep. 

How did they repay him further?
On October 19, 1986, Samora is killed when his presidential plane crashes near Mbuzini, a stone’s throw from Komatipoort where the worthless accord was signed. 

To add salt to the injury, Pik chooses to die on October 12, a mere four days away from the commemoration of Samora’s death.
The first 10 days of the month of October belong to the victim of the machinations of Pik et al, not to the apartheid foreign affairs minister. 

Many years ago, before enlightenment, I used to be of the view too that the likes of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, the English writer, were the torch-bearers to emulate. Hall has this famous line, since appropriated a million times: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” 

Pik used to take up acres of airtime and newspaper space defending the indefensible. I do not know how to wish him a safe passage towards the Pearly Gates.

Don Makatile is The Sunday Independent's chief reporter

The Sunday Independent