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Former South African President Botha Dead at 90

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Former South African President Botha Dead at 90

Remembrances

Former South African President Botha Dead at 90

Former South African President Botha Dead at 90

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P.W. Botha, who served as South Africa's last hard-line white president, has died at 90.

Nicknamed "The Big Crocodile" for his belligerence and temper, Botha was the face of racist South Africa at the height of its anti-apartheid struggle.

In a famous speech in 1985, feeling pressure from anti-apartheid forces around the world who leveled sanctions and boycotts against his country, Botha was expected to make concessions to the notion of black majority rule.

But his speech was anything but conciliatory. "The violence of our enemies is a warning to us," Botha said. "We, who are committed to peaceful negotiation, also have a warning to them: Don't push us too far."

Botha died Tuesday at his home on South Africa's southern Cape coast.

From 1978 to 1989, Botha headed South Africa's white apartheid government — an institution of which he was an architect.

Known for his finger-wagging speeches in which he refused to accept the notion of black rule in South Africa, Botha's era passed him by when apartheid fell. He never accepted responsibility for some of the heinous crimes that transpired during his regime.

After Botha left office, he was called before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. After refusing to appear, he was put on trial for refusing to testify.

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