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WATCH: Former president FW de Klerk’s last scandal caused a stir

Former president FW de Klerk ahead of the 2020 State of the Nation Address. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Former president FW de Klerk ahead of the 2020 State of the Nation Address. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Nov 11, 2021

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Cape Town - Former president FW de Klerk, who died on Thursday, saw his last controversy in 2020 when he commented that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

He received severe criticism from political parties and NGOs for his remarks.

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During President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address in February last year, the EFF called for the former president to be kicked out of Parliament, but then National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise refused to give in to the demands of the red berets, stating that De Klerk had been invited by Parliament to attend.

De Klerk then in an SABC interview remarked that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

The mounting pressure from the ANC, DA, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, among others, eventually resulted in De Klerk apologising and retracting his comments.

In a statement he said: “I agree with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation that this is not the time to quibble about the degrees of unacceptability of apartheid. It was totally unacceptable. 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.

"By 27 April 1994, under my leadership, the whole legislative framework of apartheid had been dismantled and the way had been opened for the adoption of our present non-racial democratic Constitution.

"However, the international crime of apartheid did not disappear with the demise of apartheid in South Africa. In 1998 it was included in the Statute of Rome, which established the International Criminal Court. In terms of Article 7(1) a ‘crime against humanity’ is defined 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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"It includes ‘the crime of apartheid’ as a crime against humanity and defines it as ’inhumane acts ... committed in the context of an institutional regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime’,” he said.

De Klerk lost his battle to cancer on Thursday morning. He passed away at his Fresnaye home.

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