A group of Afrikaner intellectuals has voiced their anger at the recent debate ignited by the last apartheid president, FW de Klerk, who claimed that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.
“We acknowledge that apartheid was a crime against humanity and morally indefensible,” the group said in a declaration on Sunday.
The FW de Klerk Foundation this week also apologised for its contentious statement and agreed that apartheid was indeed a crime against humanity, as defined by the International Criminal Court.
In a statement released by his foundation on Monday, De Klerk said he had taken note of the angry reaction to his comments.
De Klerk said in interviews before President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address that apartheid could not be compared with genocide and that more people died because of “black-on-black violence” than because of apartheid.
“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,” De Klerk said on Monday.
“The FW de Klerk Foundation has accordingly decided to withdraw its statement of February 14 unconditionally and apologises for the confusion, anger and hurt that it has caused.”
On Sunday, the Afrikaner intellectuals said they had benefitted from apartheid and were “appalled” by the efforts to “avoid admitting outright that apartheid was indeed a crime against humanity”.
“We deeply regret the suffering of our fellow citizens under that inhumane and humiliating system and express our sincere apology towards all fellow South Africans,” they said.
The group, while speaking in their personal capacities, said they represented likeminded colleagues, friends and family members, and were committed “towards a united, non-racial, just and equal society”.
Deeply aware of the scars caused by the inhumane system of apartheid to our fellow citizens;
Appalled by continued insensitive and transparent efforts to avoid admitting outright that apartheid was indeed a crime against humanity;
Observing how old wounds have been reopened and distrust and division are surfacing as a result;
Taking cognisance of the spontaneous outburst of outrage in the public debate, not only from those who had suffered under apartheid, but also from those who had benefitted from it;
We as concerned citizens who have benefitted from apartheid, declare herewith that:
1: We acknowledge that apartheid was a crime against humanity and morally indefensible
2: We deeply regret the suffering of our fellow citizens under that inhumane and humiliating system and express our sincere apology towards all fellow South Africans
3: We recognise the importance of all efforts to work towards economic restitution through diverse measures. We commit ourselves to overcoming disparities resulting from the legacy of apartheid and note with appreciation the various public-private partnerships and private sector and community initiatives to address backlogs, poverty and inequality.
4: We also regret the fact that all South Africans were prevented from mixing freely socially and economically, thus being denied the enjoyment of the rich diversity of the Rainbow Nation and subjected to indoctrination based on fear and prejudice. It has left our society all the poorer for it.
Although we speak in our personal capacities we represent likeminded colleagues, friends and family members – we owe it to them to take a stand; we are also inspired by voices of likeminded citizens expressed in the media and social networks.
Individually and collectively, we pledge our commitment towards a united, non-racial, just and equal society.
Emiritus professor Willie Esterhuyse, Member of the Advisory Council of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, Stellenbosch
Dawie Jacobs, former diplomat and SA ambassador to various countries, Pretoria
Professor Wannie Carstens, Potchefstroom
Barend la Grange, Chief Operating Officer, South Africa Day, Johannesburg
Dr Lindie Koorts, Historian attached to the University of the Freestate, Bloemfontein
Cobus Bester, Presenter and Journalist, Johannesburg
Truida Prekel, Innovation Consultant and Community Activist, Cape Town
Dr André Bartlett, Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, Johannesburg
Ferdi Engelbrecht, Businessman, Founder and Director of Privilege Foundation, Rustenburg
Foeta Krige, Journalist, Writer and former producer of RSG news actuality programmes, Johannesburg