On this day in history: F.W. de Klerk apologises for apartheid

On this day in history: F.W. de Klerk apologises for apartheid

Speaking before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for a second time, on this day in 1997, F.W. de Klerk repeated his assertion that murder and torture had never been part of government policy. He apologised 'once and for all' for apartheid and the hurt caused by its policies.

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De Klerk appeared before the TRC hearing to testify for Vlakplaas commanders who were accused of having committed human rights abuses during the apartheid era. He acknowledged that security forces had resorted to "unconventional strategies" in dealing with anti-apartheid revolutionaries, but denied authorising assassination, murder, torture, rape or assault. After further evidence of said abuses was produced by the commission, De Klerk stated that he found the revelations to be "as shocking and as abhorrent as anybody else".

Archbishop Desmond Tutu questioned how De Klerk and other government figures could not have been aware of them. He had hoped that De Klerk or another senior white political figure from the apartheid era would openly accept responsibility for the human rights abuses, thereby allowing South Africa to move on; this was something that De Klerk would not do.

The TRC found De Klerk guilty of being an accessory to gross violations of human rights. De Klerk challenged the TRC, and it backed down.

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On this day in history: F.W. de Klerk apologises for apartheid

On this day in history: F.W. de Klerk apologises for apartheid
Source: Depositphotos

In 1993, De Klerk and Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in ending apartheid. The awarding of the prize to De Klerk was controversial, especially in the light of his reported admission that he ordered a massacre of supposed Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army fighters, including teenagers, shortly before going to Oslo in 1993.

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After the first democratic elections in 1994, De Klerk became deputy-president under Nelson Mandela until 1996. In 1997 he resigned the leadership of the National Party and retired from politics.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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