FW de Klerk Foundation apologises to SA, agrees apartheid was a crime against humanity

FW de Klerk (Photo: Deaan Vivier)
FW de Klerk (Photo: Deaan Vivier)

The FW de Klerk Foundation has officially withdrawn its contentious statement that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, and has apologised.

It has also 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 the statement that had insisted that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

"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," he said.

"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."

The foundation referred to the provision in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which included apartheid as a crime against humanity.

"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.

"The FW de Klerk Foundation supports this provision," the statement read.

"The FW de Klerk Foundation remains deeply committed to national reconciliation and to the achievement of the foundational values on which the Foundation is based - including human dignity, the achievement of equality, the advancement of human rights and freedoms; non-racialism and non-sexism, the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law and a genuine multi-party system of democratic governance."

The statement followed a tumultuous week, where De Klerk said in interviews before the State of the Nation Address that apartheid could not be compared with genocide and that, while apartheid had lead to the deaths of many people, more died because of "black-on-black violence" than because of apartheid.

There has been wide outcry to the statement by the foundation, with the likes of the ANC, SA Council of Churches and Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation calling for a retraction and apology.

The EFF has since threatened to take legal action to ensure that a forensic inquiry is opened.

During the State of Nation Address on Thursday, the EFF demanded that De Klerk be asked to leave the House, calling him an "unrepentant apologist of apartheid".

The following day, his foundation issued a statement in which it labelled the notion that apartheid was a crime against humanity as "Soviet agitprop" – propaganda meant to agitate.

TIMELINE | FW de Klerk: Tracking the storm

"The idea that apartheid was 'a crime against humanity' was, and remains, an 'agitprop' project initiated by the Soviets and their ANC/SACP allies to stigmatise white South Africans by associating them with genuine crimes against humanity - which have generally included totalitarian repression and the slaughter of millions of people," read the initial statement.

According to the foundation, some 23 000 people died in South Africa's political violence between 1960 and 1994, adding that less than  5 000 were killed by the security forces.

"Most of the rest of the deaths occurred in the conflict between the IFP and the ANC," the initial statement had read.

"None of this is meant to whitewash the injustices that were undoubtedly committed under apartheid."

A planned #DeKlerkMustFall protest was expected to take place on Wednesday outside the foundation's office in Cape Town, which is situated in a gated office park.

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