Last Apartheid Ruler De Klerk Dies At 85

Apartheid’s last president FW de Klerk died on Thursday morning at the age of 85.

“It is with the deepest sadness that the FW de Klerk Foundation must announce that former President FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer,” said the statement announcing the death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

De Klerk was jointly awarded the coveted prize in 1993 with struggle icon Nelson Mandela.

“Mr De Klerk was 85 years old. He is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren,”  said the foundation.

“The family will, in due course, make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements.”

Criticised in later years for failing to recognise apartheid as a crime against humanity, however, the former president apologises in this video below first posted on the foundation’s website.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it “notes with sadness the passing of former state president and Nobel laureate, FW de Klerk, at the age of 85 in his home in Cape Town after a battle with cancer”.

The DA added: “Mr de Klerk’s contribution to South Africa’s transition to democracy cannot be overstated.

“His decision, within a year of taking over the presidency from PW Botha in 1989, to unban liberation movements, release Nelson Mandela from prison, lift the ban on political marches and begin the four year negotiation process towards our first democratic election was a watershed moment in our country’s history.

“De Klerk also took the decision to dismantle the country’s nuclear weapons programme. These things were not considered possible under any of his predecessors.

“Importantly, he was also able to bring the majority of white voters along with him, and this played a critical role in ensuring that the transition happened peacefully and that the 1994 elections, as well as the constitutional negotiations, were embraced by all South Africans.

“This process required calm heads and responsible leadership on both sides of the table, and it was fitting that both he and Nelson Mandela were honoured in 1993 with the shared Nobel Peace Prize.

“Swapping the presidency for his new role as leader of the official opposition, de Klerk continued to play a pivotal – and robust – leadership role in Parliament, as well as in the Government of National Unity, where he served as Deputy President under President Mandela.”