Pik Botha has died at the age of 86

Pik Botha, apartheid-era minister, dies in South Africa

Hero or oppressor? Pik Botha's death sparks apartheid debate in South Africa

Pik Botha, a man who served as the final foreign minister of South Africa under apartheid and served under the unity government, died Friday.

His son, Piet Botha confirmed to South African media that his father died in his sleep during the night.

Botha was foreign minister from 1977 to the end of white rule in 1994. Botha was known as a champion for the anti-apartheid cause, and left the Nationalist Party to join the ANC in 2000.

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"Although Botha was former minister of the Nationalist Party administration, we acknowledge and are appreciative of his positive contribution towards building a new and better South Africa", the ANC said.

He had several clashes with the hardline government of president PW Botha, who was no relation.

Botha, once the world longest-serving foreign minister, was a member of the State Security Council, the inner sanctum of apartheid's security apparatus devised to combat anti apartheid liberation movements and suspected of links to the killings of political activists.

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"His wife Ina was with him until the end", he said.

He was involved in negotiations in the late 1980s that led to independence in neighbouring Namibia and the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola, where South Africa had been involved in a conflict of Cold War proxies.

The reduction in regional tensions was followed by the 1990 release of Mandela, who had spent 27 years in apartheid prisons.

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Botha was appointed minister of mineral of energy affairs in 1994 and resigned from that post in May 1996. He was saying we have one future, we are one people and we should make peace with and look at the past and see it for what it was and not repeat it.

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