Today’s Latest Daily News
- Mourners and family members have paid homage to FW de Klerk.
- De Klerk died last month at the age of 85.
- Mourners say they hope the nation gets closure.
South Africa’s last apartheid president, FW de Klerk, was on Sunday lauded for his bravery and his role in the negotiations for the country’s Constitution.
Mourners and family members close to the former statesman gathered at his state memorial service on Sunday. The service was attended by state officials and political party members.
Former DA leader Tony Leon said he hoped the memorial service brought closure to the nation.
“The memorial service, I hope, brings closure to the family and his best friends whom I count as one, but also to the country and to actually realise that, if we are going to succeed in the future, we need to do a proper analysis of the past and the complexities it created,” he said.
READ | FW de Klerk ‘played important role in evolution of our democracy’ – Ramaphosa
De Klerk, who served as deputy president under former president Nelson Mandela from 1994 to 1996 in the Government of National Unity, died last month at the age of 85 after a battle against cancer.
He was laid to rest at a private ceremony.
De Klerk’s son, Jan, told News24 closure for the country would be a long healing process.
“I knew my father and people would have their opinions on policies and all, but we are here today where we have a Constitution and it is time to start building on a future and stop looking back at the past. The past shouldn’t define us,” he said.
Former president FW de Klerk’s son Jan de Klerk
De Klerk’s wife, Elita, paid tribute to her late husband during the service. She said De Klerk could not find peace in the apartheid system.
“This affected him psychologically. He was a very private man, guarding his inner soul and his loyalty to his country. And he started seeing that showing justice didn’t show betrayal, it meant justice. De Klerk was always concerned about the new South Africa,” she said emotionally.
FW de Klerk’s wife Elita
When news broke of De Klerk’s death, South Africans shared divergent views on the legacy of the former apartheid-era president and Nobel Peace prize winner.
Just opposite where the former statesman’s memorial service was taking place, a small group of demonstrators held up posters calling for justice for families whose loved ones died in apartheid atrocities.
The Imam Haron Foundation coordinator Cassiem Khan led the demonstrations.
“We are saying that President Cyril Ramaphosa shows sympathy for De Klerk, who didn’t answer for the killings, and he has no regard for the victims,” he said.
He added the foundation had been sending letters to Ramaphosa for justice to be served.
“Ramaphosa has time for murderers, but he doesn’t have time for the victims of apartheid and the justice that has to be given to them,” Khan said.
Small group of demonstrators outside FW de Klerks memorial service
Police forcefully removed the group and tore up their posters.
There was a strong police presence, with parts of the Cape Town CBD cordoned off and strict security measures implemented following fears of potential disruptions and protests.
On the day of his death, the FW de Klerk Foundation released a video of the former president’s last message to the people of South Africa. In it, he apologised unreservedly for apartheid.
The DA’s federal chairperson, Helen Zille, who was a journalist at the time when De Klerk was in Cabinet, described him as a leader of extraordinary courage who took crucial decisions at pivotal times, which in turn assisted in the country to avoid a civil war.
“It’s worth mentioning that it was De Klerk who dismantled all the laws underpinning apartheid and he triggered the constitutional negotiations. Without these major events, the South Africa we are working on today would not be possible,” she said.