Pieter Willem Botha was born in 1916
in Paul Roux, South Africa
. He finished his formal education studying law at the University
of the Orange Free State.
In 1936, Botha dropped out to organize the Nationalist Party in Cape Province. He quickly moved up in the ranks, and in 1948 was promoted to Chief Secretary, winning the parliamentary seat of George that same year.
In 1966, he took the job of Minister of Defense, a job he held until 1980.
In 1978, he was elected Prime Minister and Minister of National Intelligence. He began to reform the policies of Apartheid, establishing a new constitution, and abolishing his old job. He changed title from Prime Minister to Executive President in 1984.
He managed to negotiate with Nelson Mandela and begin dismantling Apartheid, while at the same time crushing dissent and destablizing other nations nearby.
He resigned in 1987, and was succeeded by F. W. de Klerk.
Botha refused to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission setup after the end of Apartheid, and in 1998, was heavily fined and given a suspended sentence at trial.