Apartheid South Africa’s last president, FW de Klerk, has apologised “without qualification” for apartheid and his role in the system.
De Klerk, who passed away on Thursday morning, was instrumental in the negotiations which saw South Africa become a democracy in 1994, and was also one of Nelson Mandela’s two deputy presidents, along with Thabo Mbeki, but this didn’t stop him from defending or trying to justify apartheid on a number of occasions.
Now, in a video released by the FW de Klerk foundation after his death, the former president has changed his tune, and unreservedly apologise for the system of “separate development”, as it was also known.
De Klerk apparently recorded the video in his final days, before his death from mesothelioma.
The former president, looking extremely frail and his voice cracking, admits that he had previously defended the system, both as a member of Parliament (MP) and as a member of Cabinet.
He said he had changed his beliefs later in his life.
“I, without qualification, apologise for the pain and the hurt and the indignity and the damage that apartheid has done to black, brown and Indians in South Africa,” he says.
“I do so not only as the former leader of the National Party, but also as an individual. Allow me in this last message to share with you that since the early 80s my views changed completely. It was as if I had a conversion and in my heart of hearts realised that apartheid was wrong.”