Former president FW de Klerk on Sunday defended his decision to authorise a raid in Mthatha in 1993 in which five teenagers were killed.

The FW de Klerk foundation said in a statement: "Although the operation was tragically botched, Mr De Klerk himself acted in his capacity as head of government with due deliberation and care and in complete compliance with national and international law."

The foundation was reacting to a Sunday Times report in which Vlaakplas killer Eugene de Kock accused De Klerk of ordering the raid.

De Kock is serving a 212-year sentence for apartheid atrocities.

The foundation said recent reports on the raid against a supposed Azania People's Liberation Army (APLA) target were not a "revelation" and did not provide evidence that De Klerk ordered illegal murders.

The newspaper reported that Mzwandile Mfeya, 12, Sandiso Yose, 12, twins Samora and Sadat Mpenduko, 16 and Thando Mtembu were killed during the raid in October 1993.

It said former chief General Georg Meiring told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the raid was authorised by a State Security Council (SSC) meeting attended by ministers Hernus Kriel, Pik Both and De Klerk.

It further said that De Klerk attended an SSC meeting where an Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) request for the paramilitary unit was discussed.

The foundation said De Klerk dealt with the Mthatha raid issue in his autobiography.

In his autobiography De Klerk claimed he was informed by the South African Defence Force (SADF) that an APLA house had been located at Mthata, in the Transkei.

"The defence force said that they had the house under surveillance for several days and had corroboration that it was being used by APLA for terrorist purposes. They had no doubt that it was a legitimate target," the autobiography reads.

He said he was warned that if government did not stop the threat, more terrorist attacks against South Africans would take place across the Transkei border.

The SA police also advised De Klerk that the information had been corroborated by two separate informants.

"It was an extremely difficult decision to take and, because it would involve military action in a country that South Africa regarded as independent, it was a decision that I, as head of the government, would have to take," De Klerk said.

"In my mind I was satisfied that we had taken all the peaceful options at our disposal to persuade (General Bantu) Holomisa to prevent APLA from using Transkei as a base for cross-border terrorist attacks."

He said Holomisa had not responded satisfactorily to any of the government's pleas or threats.

De Klerk said Holomisa would find a way to move APLA to a safe place if he was confronted with the new information.

"I accordingly authorised the defence force to raid the house, but stipulated that minimum force should be used and that care should be taken to avoid serious injuries and casualties."

On October 8, the SADF conducted the raid and the five teenagers were shot dead.

"When I later confronted the SADF with their failure to carry out my instructions that minimum force should be used, they explained that the troops involved had thought that the occupants of the house were reaching for their weapons - so they opened fire, believing that they were in a combat situation," said De Klerk.

The foundation also defended the decision to provide the IFP and its leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi with "additional protection".

"(The decision) was quite understandable within the context of the ANC's concerted armed struggle against the IFP at that time," the foundation said.

"During the course of this conflict more than 400 IFP office bearers were assassinated. Also within the political context of the time it was quite understandable that such assistance should be given on a clandestine basis."

It said De Klerk did not give mandate or orders to commit gross violations of human rights. - Sapa