SA citizens who 'benefited from apartheid' speak out against 'insensitive' statements

FW de Klerk at the FW de Klerk Foundation conference at a hotel in Cape Town on 31 January 2020.
FW de Klerk at the FW de Klerk Foundation conference at a hotel in Cape Town on 31 January 2020.
Brenton Geach, Gallo

Concerned citizens who "benefited from apartheid" have taken a stand against recent apartheid-related statements which they have described as "insensitive".

In a statement, supported by various heavyweights, professors, business people, former politicians and journalists, the concerned citizens added their voices to the recent furore.

The group included:

  • Emeritus Professor Willie Esterhuyse, member of the Advisory Committee of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation;
  • Dawie Jacobs, a former diplomat and ambassador;
  • Barend la Grange, COO of South Africa Day;
  • Cobys Bester, presenter and journalist; and
  • Dr André Bartlett, a Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Former deputy president FW de Klerk caused a national outcry last week over his earlier comments that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

ANALYSIS | Friday Briefing: FW de Klerk's comments have caused a firestorm. Former NP minister Leon Wessels, author Antjie Krog and historian Lindie Koorts weigh in

The group responded to his statement, saying the apartheid system was a crime against humanity. 

The group said it was "appalled by continued insensitive and transparent efforts to avoid admitting outright that apartheid was indeed a crime against humanity".

It added that as "citizens who have benefited from apartheid", it regretted the suffering that occurred under apartheid.

"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.

"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."

It said it also regretted that South Africans were prevented from interacting freely and economically and 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.

"Individually and collectively, we pledge our commitment towards a united, non-racial, just and equal society," the group said.

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