FW de Klerk: Mandela held my hand for all to see

2013-12-06 13:24

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Former SA president FW de Klerk is unsurprised but grief-stricken over Madiba’s death, he told journalists today.

The 77-year-old former statesman released his soon-to-be successor Nelson Mandela from prison, and was a key role player involved in brokering the end of apartheid.

He said Madiba’s presidential inauguration on May 10 1994 was a pivotal moment that he will treasure for the rest of his life.

“I will always remember him holding up my hand, and also the hand of Thabo Mbeki, for all to see. It was symbolic of us approaching the future together,” De Klerk told journalists assembled at the Townhouse Hotel, near Parliament in central Cape Town.

“Keeping our Constitution alive is the best way to honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy,” he said.

De Klerk added that the last time he saw Madiba was before the Soccer World Cup, when he joined Mandela and Graça Machel for tea at their Houghton home. “He was already very frail then. But we laughed and reminisced,” said De Klerk.

The former statesman said he learned of Tata’s death when a CNN reporter called him early this morning. He said he waited for President Jacob Zuma’s official confirmation before he shared the news.

After the press conference, he softly said in Afrikaans: “Ek is nie verbaas nie, maar ek is treurig. (I am not surprised, but I am grief-stricken.)”

De Klerk and Mandela jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

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