Reaction to Botha's Death Shows Changes in South Africa

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Something remarkable happened after the death of the ruthless and reviled P.W. Botha, apartheid South Africa's last hard-line president: The black government Botha toiled to prevent sent condolences, offered a state funeral and ordered flags flown at half staff.

The reaction to Botha's death pointed to the extraordinary strides toward reconciliation made by a country once bitterly divided. The gestures made this week also show a desire to relegate the wounds inflicted by apartheid to the past.

In a measure of the progress, former President Nelson Mandela -- who Botha kept in prison despite enormous international pressure to free him -- gave him some credit for helping to pave the way for multiracial democracy.

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