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SA’s last apartheid president FW de Klerk has died

FW de Klerk. File Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

FW de Klerk. File Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Published Nov 11, 2021

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Durban - South Africa’s last apartheid president, FW de Klerk has died. He was 85-years-old.

“It is with the deepest sadness that the FW de Klerk Foundation must announce that former President FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer,” the FW De Klerk Foundation said in a statement.

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“Mr De Klerk was 85 years old. He is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren. The family will, in due course, make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements”.

De Klerk had been earlier this year diagnosed with mesothelioma - "a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs", the FW de Klerk Foundation said on its website.

He was receiving immunotherapy for the illness.

On 2 February 1990, South African President FW de Klerk delivered a speech at the opening of the 1990 session of the Parliament of South Africa.

He announced sweeping reforms that marked the beginning of the negotiated transition from apartheid to constitutional democracy. The reforms included the unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC), The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other anti-apartheid organizations, the release of political prisoners -including Nelson Mandela- the end of the state of emergency and a moratorium on the death penalty.

According to his foundation, De Klerk’s actions and speech marked the official end of segregation policies and the official start of the negotiations that led to a constitutional democracy with equal rights for all South Africans.

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He was president from September 1989 until May 1994 and joined Mandela’s government of national unity as one of two deputy presidents in after the April 1994 democratic elections.

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