Botha Unrepentant on Church Bombing

  • Share
  • Read Later
CAPE TOWN: Church bombing isn’t necessarily a human rights violation, former South African president P.W. Botha told a court hearing today. Botha’s contempt-of-court trial heard evidence that the octogenarian hardliner had ordered the August 1988 bombing of the headquarters of the South African Council of Churches, in which 21 people were injured. Botha is unfazed by the charges: “He’s never denied ordering the bombing,” says TIME Johannesburg bureau chief Peter Hawthorne. “He’s never admitted it either. In his own inimitable way, he’s saying he did it because the building was the headquarters of a subversive organization.”

Botha is facing contempt charges over his refusal to testify before the commission, but Hawthorne believes the ex-president is unlikely to be punished: “In the end he’ll probably get away with it because the commission doesn’t want to be seen to be hounding a dinosaur of the old regime.” In other words, they’ll opt to let not-yet-sleeping dinosaurs lie.