'Botha never greeted me'

Mpikeleni Duma

Mpikeleni Duma

A member of the police's presidential guard yesterday said he did not enjoy guarding PW Botha, claiming that the apartheid-era president "never regarded me as a human being".

Inspector Papi Koloane said Botha never responded to his greetings and chatted to other guards, but not to him.

Koloane said at one time he wanted to abandon the post but was talked out of doing so by police headquarters in Tshwane.

Koloane was posted to Botha's Wilderness home in the Western Cape in 2003.

"I greeted the old man many times, but he never responded. Instead he would greet only white guards.

"He even went to the extent of asking about their wellbeing and talking about the weather," said Koloane.

The former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) operative said his experience at Botha's house pained him.

"In the MK camps in Angola we used to sing about how we were going to overthrow Botha and his dogs."

He said he guarded "the old man for professional and humanitarian reasons".

Koloane said Botha's visitors, such as former Freedom Front leader Constand Viljoen, greeted him and exchanged compliments with him.

Koloane said that if he had been asked to attend Botha's funeral he would not have been able to answer.

Botha, the Groot Krokodil, was buried yesterday afternoon at Wilderness.