Former president FW de Klerk waits for President Cyril Ramaphosa to deliver his State of the Nation Address on Thursday, while the EFF disrupted parliamentary proceedings in Cape Town.     Picture: Sumaya Hisham AP
Former president FW de Klerk waits for President Cyril Ramaphosa to deliver his State of the Nation Address on Thursday, while the EFF disrupted parliamentary proceedings in Cape Town. Picture: Sumaya Hisham AP

FW de Klerk makes a U-turn on offensive comments about apartheid

By SIHLE MAVUSO Time of article published Feb 17, 2020

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Durban - Former deputy president FW de Klerk has apologised for his remarks that apartheid was not a crime against humanity. He made the comments which have been widely slammed by political parties and NGOs during a television interview with the SABC recently. 

On Friday, he had also issued a statement which said the idea of apartheid as a crime against humanity was communist propaganda.

De Klerk was also at the centre of a 90 minute late start to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s fourth State of the Nation Address when the EFF demanded he be kicked out of Parliament for his remarks. National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise had refused for de Klerk to be kicked out, stating that he had been invited by Parliament to attend the SONA. 

But on Monday, following increasing public pressure and backlash, the last leader of the apartheid regime retracted his comments that apartheid was not a crime against humanity and duly apologised. 

The ANC, several prominent leaders within the DA, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the SA Council of Churches and former DA leader Tony Leon, were among individuals and organisations that had condemned de Klerk's statement and called for him to withdraw his views. 

On Monday afternoon, de Klerk said he had taken note of the vehement reaction to their response to the EFF’s attack on him at SONA on Thursday night.

“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,” de Klerk said in the statement. 

"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.”

"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.

The offensive statement has since been removed from the foundation’s website.  

POLITICAL BUREAU

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