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FW de Klerk played an important role in SA’s democratic transition, says President Ramaphosa

South African dignitaries, family members and friends bid farewell to former President, FW De Klerk at a State memorial service in Die Groote Kerk in Cape Town. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

South African dignitaries, family members and friends bid farewell to former President, FW De Klerk at a State memorial service in Die Groote Kerk in Cape Town. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 12, 2021

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In DELIVERING his eulogy at last apartheid president FW de Klerk’s state memorial service on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said while the injustices of the past should not be forgotten, De Klerk played a role in the democratic transition of the country.

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Ramaphosa described De Klerk as “courteous, respectful and committed”.

The service took place at the Groote Kerk, Cape Town, on Sunday morning.

De Klerk died at his home in Fresnaye after his long battle with cancer on November 11.

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His death, coupled with a video released by the FW de Klerk Foundation in which the 85-year-old apologised for the damage caused to blacks during the apartheid regime, sparked mixed reactions from citizens in the country.

Ramaphosa reflected on the day that the democratic Constitution was signed into law by former president Nelson Mandela in Sharpeville on December 10, 1996, and shared that De Klerk was seated not too far from Mandela.

“His presence on that day, to bear witness to the signing of the Constitution that would be the foundation of a free South Africa, was deeply significant. His presence was a measure of the changes that had taken place in our country in the passage of only a few years.

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“Some of the relatives of the 69 people who were massacred at Sharpeville were also seated in the audience together with FW de Klerk. It must have been a sombre moment for him. It must also have been a moment of deep reflection,” Ramaphosa said.

The president made reference to a statement made by Mandela in which he described De Klerk as a “man of integrity”.

He said in remembering the courage of his convictions, the last apartheid president’s contribution and his legacy remain contested.

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“We can neither ignore, nor must we ever seek to dismiss, the anger, the pain and the disappointment of those who recall the place FW de Klerk occupied in the hierarchy of an oppressive state. We must never forget the injustices of the past.

“Change did not come soon enough for the many South Africans who lost their lives at the hands of a cruel regime, but change did nonetheless come,” Ramaphosa said.

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Political Bureau

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