When I first learnt of Pik Botha’s death on Friday, I beamed with joy! I had the same reaction to the deaths of evil relics such as PW Botha, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
I grew up in Maseru in the 1980s, politically conscientised at a time when South Africa was at war and my entire freedom-fighting paternal family were branded terrorists – and little was thought of my life by the white man on the streets of this country.
This white man was brainwashed by people such as the recently deceased Botha, who, as someone recently reminded me, single-handedly delayed the end of apartheid by at least a decade with his two-faced overtures that had many fooled that he was the better devil than former apartheid-era president FW de Klerk, whose death I am anticipating with glee.
After all, Botha publicly celebrated the deaths of 30 men and women I knew personally as a child in the 1982 Maseru cross-border raid, with his immoral SA Defence Force hunting down Umkhonto weSizwe cadres. An additional 12 Basotho nationals were killed that night and I was injured, almost to the point of having to have my leg amputated, simply for being the daughter of a man wanted dead or alive by the Boers.
That heroic man, Mathabatha Sexwale, fought them off and saved my entire family, while communist East German specialist surgeons managed to remove all of the grenade shrapnel lodged in my thigh close to critical nerves.
In 2000, at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which I have rebranded the Lies and Unrepentant Commission, Botha developed amnesia and claimed that, as the foreign affairs minister of the illegitimate apartheid government he had spent years defending, he did not know about the 1980s raids on neighbouring countries.
He told that kangaroo court that the government had its suspicions – but no proof – about clandestine police activity in the frontline states. I guess dead bodies were turning up mysteriously and papers such as the Rand Daily Mail and the Weekly Mail were libellous in their censored reporting? At least that’s what he would have us believe.
I am no rainbowist, singing Kumbaya alongside those who feel a need to extend olive branches to unrepentant racists in the hope that they will change or hand over our stolen land without noise. Instead, at the core of my being, I wish that other faculties of thought had prevailed and that South Africa had held Nuremberg-style trials for apartheid criminals such as Botha.
What is sad is that the generation before mine gave them a free pass to spew nonsense, even inviting them to join the ANC under the auspices of finally killing the National Party, as was our goal in 1912.
My only sorrow about these evil men like Botha is that he and other apartheid criminals died with secrets, protected by our leaders who signed sunset clause deals in dark, smoky rooms. This is a largely ignored part of our history; it is kept out of today’s books used to teach our children, who bear the brunt of the unfair and imbalanced situation that prevails in South Africa.
The era of tyranny meted out on us is the reason for my strong feelings about these surviving relics, who belong in the dustbin of history. While our grandparents languish in poverty and deprivation, they spend their final years guarding their secrets about where their ill-gotten treasure troves – moved en masse out of South Africa prior to the unbanning of revolutionary movements – were shipped off to.
I caught a lot of flack for my celebratory tweets on the day Botha’s death was announced, with rainbowists lecturing me about forgiveness and their revisionist version of African culture, forgetting about justice. One person (@uMandlakazi), who agreed and defended my stance, stated more politely: “… Mourn if you will but I have a number of things to get through which will be made easier by this new information that’s come to light.” This, in response to a black mourner finding me cruel.
I long for a peaceful and equal South Africa. Whenever people ask why, despite my personal circumstances, I remain so incensed, I emphasise that the struggle against apartheid was not about individuals. An injury to one is an injury to all.
Nothing fills my heart with more joy than seeing prosperous black South Africans, such as new graduates armed with knowledge that was previously denied to them. I rejoice when black businesspeople create jobs for our people. An old woman receiving a decent home to live in, in her lifetime, tells a good story no article can ever capture.
I have hope for my people. As we weed out the bad potatoes from society, the promised land seems a step closer. I dream that my grandchildren will not need to have discussions like these because, after all, the evil apartheid monsters will all be gone. Like my father said to me earlier: “Kananelo, let sleeping dogs lie.”
Kay Sexwale is a communications strategist who loves SA