Furious PW lashes NGK

Sunday Times. NOVEMBER 11, 1990.
Archbishop Tutu should confess to sin says former President.

An angry P W Botha yesterday attacked the NG Kerk leadership for its decision to repent its apartheid sins.

The former state president also disclosed that he phoned NG Kerk moderator Pieter Potgieter at this week’s historic church conference near Rustenburg to vent his wrath.

Speaking from his home at Wilderness, Mr Botha, 74, said he would not leave the church, but would make his views known “on every available occasion within church structures”.

Mr Botha’s remarks came at the end of a turbulent week within the NG Kerk. It started when Stellenbosch theology professor Willie Jonker rose before 330 delegates at the Rustenburg conference and publicly admitted the church was guilty of the sin of apartheid and the suffering it had caused.

Then, in an emotional moment, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, stood up and said he accepted the confession “I cannot, when someone says “forgive me” say I cannot.

Yesterday Mr Botha said he found it “utterly unacceptable” that NG Kerk theologians had confessed to Archbishop Tutu.

“It is beyond my comprehension that they could have done something like that. If anyone needs to do some confessing it is Tutu himself,” Mr Botha said.


“With his continuing sanctions-mongering and support for revolutionary elements, he has caused untold suffering and misery to many women and children.”

When he heard about the NG Kerk confession earlier this week, a disbelieving and irate Mr Botha phoned Professor Potgieter in Rustenburg.

Mr Botha, refusing to disclose details of the conversation said: “I know Professor Potgieter well enough to speak to him about these matters.”

The call from Mr Botha – once nicknamed die Groot Krokodil (the Big Crocodile) by National Party wags – said to be only one of a number of angry messages from church members to the NG Kerk delegation.

There is a growing fear in the church that more and more of its members will join the breakaway Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk in the wake of the NG Kerk declaration.

APK moderator Willie Lubbe said yesterday: “There has been a steady trickle away trom the NG Kerk since its Bloemfontein Synod last month. I expect that to become a stream.

Mr Botha said yesterday he disagreed with the idea that any man should confess his sins to others.

“You are supposed to confess your sins before God alone and ask His forgiveness. You apologise to people if you have made mistakes.”

The confession was a “tasteless attack on and a humiliation of venerable church leaders of the past”.


“It goes against the grain of the positions that the church and I have always taken in favour of development, upliftment and Christianisation of other people.”

Mr Botha said he believed he was speaking on behalf of “all right-minded South Africans – white and black”.

“There are a great many sensible black and brown people who do not want to associate themselves with revolutionary elements.”

Mr Botha said oppression in SA “was brought here during the colonial period. The Afrikaner – my people – were not oppressors.

“My own mother was active in missionary work and my father made a major contribution … and remember it was I who started political reform in this country.”