De Klerk's apartheid denial slammed in SONA debate

FW de Klerk when the EFF interrupted the SONA to ask for him to removed from the sitting.
FW de Klerk when the EFF interrupted the SONA to ask for him to removed from the sitting.
Bertram Malgas, News24

The statement released by the FW de Klerk Foundation, denying apartheid was a crime against humanity and only declared as such due to Soviet propaganda, is "unfortunate, insensitive and reckless", ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said.

On Tuesday, she opened the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address (SONA), which was disrupted on Thursday evening when the EFF wanted the former deputy president and final apartheid president FW de Klerk removed from the public gallery, where he sat as a guest of Parliament.

The following day, the foundation released a much-maligned statement.

"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 statement.

On Monday, De Klerk withdrew the statement and apologised for any confusion.

Dlakude urged all South Africans to "combat looming racial tensions" which was being stirred by "reactionary forces".

She described the initial statement as "unfortunate, insensitive and reckless".

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said: "Every South African, including those who claim ignorance, know for a fact that apartheid was a crime against humanity. It was our lived reality."

READ |FW de Klerk fallout: No change in leadership expected as foundation 'comes out wiser'

He said South African comedian and host of The Daily Show in the US Trevor Noah had put it succinctly in the title of his book - Born A Crime.

"Therefore, the question of whether or not apartheid was a crime against humanity should not even arise to begin with."

Mthembu did not mention it in his speech, but the name Jackson Mthembu is on the long list of people who suffered human rights abuses at the hands of the apartheid state in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

ALSO READ | Wilhelm Verwoerd | FW de Klerk saga: facing the dehumanisation of apartheid

EFF leader Julius Malema told the sitting he could not understand why De Klerk still received the benefits afforded to previous heads of state.

"There is absolutely nothing De Klerk does for nation building," said Malema, adding ANC MPs were fearful of him as they were spies and he could reveal that.

"We must make sure that De Klerk is punished."

GOOD MP Shaun August said it was a fact apartheid was a crime against humanity.

NFP MP Munzoor Shaik Emam said his party rejected De Klerk's apology and condemned his utterances.

ANC MP Mikateko Mahlaule said, in reference to De Klerk: "The most effective way to punish a racist is to let him live long. Let them see apartheid melt before their own eyes.

"They must experience non-racialism, which will break their heart because it is irreversible."

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