The following tribute from former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pik Botha was sent on the occasion of the funeral of the late Don Sole - Old Kingswoodian 1933 : Cape Town, 25 May 2011
"I deeply regret that I cannot join you today, to mourn the passing, and to celebrate the life, of an extraordinary man who I had the privilege of calling a friend and colleague for many years.
Don Sole left a deep and lasting impression on all who knew him. I am one of many who had the greatest respect and admiration for him, as a professional diplomat, as a leader, and as a human being. As Minister of Foreign Affairs during the final years of Don's long and illustrious career, it is with a heavy heart that I send this message on behalf of all his friends and colleagues of the Department of Foreign Affairs, to which he dedicated his life.
Don Sole was my mentor and role model, as he was for many others. In a career that saw many highlights and outstanding achievements, he will be remembered for his intellectual integrity; his dignity and grace under pressure; his total commitment to the interests of South Africa and all of its people; the example he set for the rest of us in his devotion to duty, to the highest standards of professional excellence; and his loyalty to his country, his department, and to those who toiled with him to keep our country safe and secure during some of the most difficult and threatening times our country has ever faced.
Each of us will have our own way of expressing these sentiments today. In my case, it dates back to 1963 when, on transfer back from Germany, I was assigned to the legal team dealing with the SWA case before the International Court of Justice. Don Sole was my boss. He was the Under Secretary. We youngsters were in awe of him. As a diplomat he had witnessed the outbreak of WW 11, the inception of the United Nations, and was in the team that established the International Atomic Energy Agency. In looking to him for guidance, I came to learn and appreciate the value of his great wisdom and knowledge. His rigorous analyses of complex situations and events, and predictions of their likely outcomes, were seen by his juniors as subsequently proven correct. For us there was no greater influence, or persuasive power than that. We aspired to be like Don Sole.
In the hectic and turbulent years of the SWA case, he inspired and encouraged me to put everything I had into helping us win it. He saw clearly what the consequences would be, if we lost it. He gave me wide latitude, and every support. When circumstances required me to overlook departmental procedures and red tape, in order to get the job done, he was on my side. I still see him now, clearly in my mind's eye, hurrying through the wide corridors of the Union Buildings between meetings and rushed consultations, always on the move. Time was valuable to him, and every minute had to be at the service of maximum output and quality work.
After I was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1977, I felt honoured when Don succeeded me as Ambassador in Washington DC. In wishing me well, he sent me a note that I have always treasured, and often recalled when times were tough. It was this quotation from Shakespeare: " To thine own self be true, and it must follow as night by day, thou can'st not then be false to any man ".
I teased him at the time that he would have to bear responsibility for my appointment as Minister, as he had been the supervisor whose flattering reports had led to my rapid promotion in the Department.
There were times when Don was critical of certain aspects of Government policy, but no-one doubted his thoughtfulness, nor his intentions in articulating them. His views were the product of careful and sincere reflection, delivered in the courteous and calm manner we all knew and respected, and always meant as constructive criticism. They were his contribution to many of the debates on the future of this country in which we were seriously engaged, and nobody welcomed them more than I. We agreed that apartheid could not be transformed. It had to be dismantled.
Don Sole will remain an outstanding figure in the history of our country's Foreign Affairs. The role he played in assisting us to steer our ship safely through the storms of international oceans, will stay with all of us who had the privilege of knowing him and working with him. South Africa owes him a debt of gratitude for a lifetime of selfless service to the country and people he loved.
On behalf of all of Don's former colleagues who shared his life, allow me to say a special Thank You to Elizabeth, his wife, and to all members of Don's family. They gave their husband and father to the cause of a better South Africa, and South Africa has much to be grateful for. Few sons of our soil ever served with such dedication and distinction, and we want Elizabeth and the family to know that we honour them and thank them.
It is always hard to say goodbye, but today we have to take our leave of Don Sole. May he rest in peace. He was a great example to all of us, and we who remain behind have his lead to follow."