Former South African President and last apartheid-era leader who helped to bring to an end, the white minority rule in the country, Frederick de Klerk, is dead.
The Nobel Peace prize winner, who helped orchestrate the release of Nelson Mandela, was reported to have died of cancer at the age of 85.
De Klerk was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the tissue that lines the lungs, in March and headed South Africa’s white minority government until 1994, when Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress party swept to power.
FW De Klerk Foundation, in a statement on Thursday, said. ‘’FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer. The family will, in due course, make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements.’’
De Klerk, who is survived by his wife Elita, Children, Jan and Susan, and grandchildren, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, for leading the miracle transition from white rule in the country
However, many South Africans believed he did not do enough to fully atone for apartheid or for the human rights abuses carried out by the security forces when he was president.
What you should know
De Klerk, born in Johannesburg on March 18, 1936, in the economic hub of Johannesburg, into a family of Afrikaners, a white ethnic group descended mainly from Dutch colonisers.
De Klerk was the son of a prominent politician and leading apartheid senator who served briefly as interim president.
He studied law and worked as an attorney for several years until he was elected to parliament as a National Party candidate in 1972.
He went on to hold several top ministerial posts before being elected president in 1989, a position he held until 1994 when he handed over to Nelson Mandela after the first democratic elections in 1994.