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Date: Tue, 3 Feb 98 16:15:00 CST
From: bghauk@berlin.infomatch.com (Brian Hauk)
Subject: Former Apartheid Boss Faces Charges

Former Apartheid Top Faces Charges

By T. J. Figueroa, in the Militant, Vol.62, no.5
9 February 1998

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -P.W. Botha, president and top racist of apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, appeared in court January 23 on charges of ignoring a subpoena to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission ordered Botha to testify on his role in the crimes of the apartheid system, under which the large black majority was denied the most basic civil and human rights, but he refused to appear in December.

Judge Victor Lagaju, who is black, presided over the brief hearing in the southern Cape city of George, and postponed the case to February 23. If Botha enters a plea of not guilty for ignoring the subpoena, the case will go to trial April 14.

Botha was flanked by senior generals of the old apartheid state, including former defense minister Magnus Malan, Freedom Front leader Constand Viljoen, and former Defense Force chief Jannie Geldenhuys.

At a post-hearing press conference, Botha denounced the commission's "attempts to humiliate me and my people." Botha swore he would "stand by my principles," and urged "all those opposed to the forces of chaos, communism, and socialism" to do the same.

"I stand with all those who executed lawful commands from my government in our struggle against the revolutionary communist onslaught against our country. I deplore the vilification of brave soldiers and policemen," he said. "South Africa is on a dangerous road, and President [Nelson] Mandela must not waken the tiger in the Afrikaner nation." Afrikaners are the descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa.

These words did not deter the 1,000-strong protest called by the African National Congress on the other side of the barbed wire. Energetic demonstrators loudly denounced Botha throughout the course of the day.


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