Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's strenuous attempts to persuade Mr P W Botha to appear before us, and his subsequent trial on charges of refusing to do so, demonstrate in a concrete way that we now have a society in which no one is above the law. This is in stark contrast to the past, when the rule of law was effectively suspended. Mr Botha has been publicly held accountable for his actions in a court of law, and he has been afforded every opportunity to defend himself, something which was often denied his political opponents during the years of his rule. The trial has reiterated that all South Africans, no matter how influential or powerful, are treated equally before the law.
We are sad that Mr Botha refused to use the opportunity of appearing before the TRC, an opportunity that was taken advantage of by many of his former colleagues and other political leaders. His own stubborness and unwillingness to compromise is what led to this long, drawn-out trial, but we are nevertheless pleased that the law has finally taken its course.
The Human Rights Violations Committee has completed its hearings and is therefore not able to pursue its efforts to have Mr Botha appear and answer questions. But the Amnesty Committee still has many months of work ahead of it and retains the power to subpoena him again. We hope that if it needs Mr Botha's evidence, he will reconsider his attitude.