South Africa’s Last Apartheid President F. W. de Klerk Dies
F.W. de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela and as South Africa’s last apartheid president oversaw the end of the country’s white minority rule, has died at the age of 85.
De Klerk was diagnosed with cancer in his Fresnaye home. He died on Thursday, according to a spokesperson of the F.W. The de Klerk Foundation confirms this on Thursday
De Klerk was an controversial South African figure. He was blamed for the violence against Black South Africans as well as anti-apartheid activists. Some whites, however, saw him as betraying his efforts to end apartheid.
It was de Klerk who in a speech to South Africa’s parliament on Feb. 2, 1990, announced that Mandela would be released from prison after 27 years. An entire country, long condemned and supported by many for the brutal system of racial discrimination called apartheid for years, was electrified when de Klerk made this announcement.
With South Africa’s isolation deepening and its once-solid economy deteriorating, de Klerk, who had been elected president just five months earlier, also announced in the same speech the lifting of a ban on the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid political groups.
Some members of parliament left the chamber during his speech amid gasps.
Mandela finally left the prison nine days later.
Four years after that, Mandela was elected the country’s first Black president as Black South Africans voted for the first time.
Mandela and de Klerk were both awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1993, in recognition of their often-tense cooperation to move South Africa away form institutionalized racism toward democracy.