There seems to be some confusion as to whether former president FW de Klerk, who died this morning in Cape Town, will be afforded a state funeral.
De Klerk died after a battle with cancer.
Speaking on Cape Talk, spokesperson of the FW De Klerk Foundation Dave Steward said: “We understand that President [Cyril] Ramaphosa will also be issuing a statement regarding arrangements for a state funeral.”
The Presidency has since issued a statement of condolences on De Klerk’s passing but didn’t make mention of a state funeral, saying the foundation would make an announcement.
“The FW de Klerk Foundation will in due course make announcements regarding funeral arrangements,” said the Presidency in a statement.
There have been mixed reactions to De Klerk’s death as the country’s last president under apartheid, with some already threatening to disrupt proceedings if he’s given a state funeral.
South African actress and businesswoman Pearl Thusi began by correcting news headlines on social media that referred to him as a “former South African president”, saying they made no mention of the fact that he was head of state while South Africa still practised apartheid.
“If FW de Klerk gets a state funeral… That will be a huge middle finger to the people who suffered under the apartheid regime in this country,” tweeted Thusi.
“[In] fact, we must disrupt that funeral if it’s declared a state funeral. There’s just no way,” Thusi added.
Ramphosa on De Klerk
In his statement of condolence, the Ramaphosa said: “I offer my sincerest condolences to his wife, Elita, his children Jan and Susan, and his grandchildren.
“My thoughts are also with Mr De Klerk’s friends and associates and the management and staff of the FW de Klerk Foundation.”
Ramaphosa commended De Klerk’s role in South Africa’s transition to democracy.
“The then state president De Klerk played a vital role in our transition to democracy in the 1990s, which originated from his first meeting in 1989 with president Nelson Mandela who was a political prisoner at that stage.”
Ramaphosa said De Klerk took “the courageous decision to unban political parties, release political prisoners and enter into negotiations with the liberation movement amid severe pressure to the contrary from many in his political constituency”.
He said De Klerk’s tenure as deputy president was spent dedicating himself to the constitutional imperative of healing the divisions and conflict and placing the long-term future of the country ahead of narrow political interests.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) also sent messages of condolences.
“De Klerk will forever be linked to Nelson Mandela in the annals of South African history,” said the NMF.
“As head of state, he oversaw the release of Madiba from prison on 11 February 1990. In 1993 they were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ushering in a negotiated settlement that led to South Africa holding its first democratic election in 1994.”