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De Klerk apologises to South Africa

17th February 2020 BY: Thabi Madiba
Creamer Media Researcher and Writer

Former Apartheid-era President FW de Klerk, through his Foundation, apologised for the statement made last week, saying apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

During last week’s commemoration of the thirtieth year since the release of late former President Nelson Mandela’s from prison, De Klerk shockingly said more black people were killed in what he called “black-on-black violence”, compared with those murdered by the National Party government.

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The former president's foundation released a statement on Friday labelling the notion that apartheid was a crime against humanity "Soviet agitprop" – propaganda meant to agitate.

However, on Monday the foundation backtracked and said it agreed with the International Criminal Court’s definition of a crime against humanity, which was cited as acts “…committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.”

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“The FW de Klerk Foundation has accordingly decided to withdraw its statement of 14 February unconditionally and apologises for the confusion, anger and hurt that it has caused,” it said.

It added that the foundation remained deeply committed to national reconciliation and to the achievement of the foundational values on which the Foundation was based – human dignity, non-racialism, and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, among others.

Last week’s statement attracted a backlash from various organisations and individuals, with multiple civil organisations and political parties, including the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation, calling on De Klerk to retract his comment that apartheid had not been a crime against humanity.

Announcing its decision to withdraw its statement, the FW de Klerk Foundation said it agreed with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation that “this was not the time to quibble about the degrees of unacceptability of apartheid”, adding that it was “totally unacceptable”.

During President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address last week, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema demanded that De Klerk be removed from Parliament, labelling him an "unrepentant apologist of apartheid."

Malema said De Klerk had denied that the apartheid government committed genocide against black people.

De Klerk said while he noted the “vehement reaction to our response to the EFF’s attack on me at the State of the Nation address”, he pointed out that under his leadership the whole legislative framework of apartheid had been dismantled by April 1994, paving the way for the adoption of the country’s present non-racial democratic Constitution.

Meanwhile, it was reported on Monday that former President Thabo Mbeki had spoken with De Klerk and revealed that at the time, De Klerk was not aware of the United Nation's declaration that apartheid was a crime against humanity. 

Mbeki said he had interacted with De Klerk, who had said he "actually did not know" about the UN declaration.  

EDITED BY: Sashnee Moodley Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia
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