Frederik de Klerk, last apartheid president in South Africa, dies | DW | 11.11.2021

At the age of 85 and a victim of cancer, the last white president of South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk, died, who paved the way for democracy in the African country, freed the icon of the fight against apartheid Nelson Mandela and shared with him the Nobel Peace Prize. The news of his death was announced by the former president’s foundation this Thursday (11.11.2021).

“It is with the greatest sadness that the FW de Klerk Foundation announces the passing of former President FW de Klerk peacefully at his home in Fresnaye (a suburb of Cape Town, in southwestern South Africa) this morning after battling cancer mesothelioma, “says a statement issued by the entity.

De Klerk brought about the end of the racist system shortly after taking office, succeeding in 1989 President Pieter Willem Botha, weakened by a heart attack. On February 2, 1990, he announced the imminent end of white rule in South Africa by signaling, in Parliament, that “the time for negotiations” had arrived, and ordering the unconditional release of Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years.

Mandela and De Klerk receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

Rare cancer

De Klerk also ended the ban on anti-apartheid parties, thus launching a transition process that, three years later, led to the first multiracial elections in the country’s history, which were won by Mandela. It was de Klerk who handed over command to the historic South African leader in 1994 and was, at the same time, vice president until 1996.

His most famous speech was precisely that of February 1990, when he argued that “it is time for us to get out of the cycle of violence and make our way towards peace and reconciliation. The silent majority yearns for it.” Despite his role in ending apartheid, his legacy remains highly controversial in South Africa.

De Klerk announced last March that he had been diagnosed with a rare but serious type of cancer that affects the mesothelium, the tissue that lines the lungs, stomach, heart and other organs. De Klerk’s family will announce the date and place of the funeral during the day.

DZC (AFP, EFE, Reuters)

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Frederik de Klerk, last apartheid president in South Africa, dies | DW | 11.11.2021