(Reuters) – South Africa’s last white president Frederik Willem (F.W.) de Klerk, who negotiated the end of white minority rule and a peaceful transfer of power to a Black-led government, died on Thursday aged 85.
Here is a timeline of key dates in the history of apartheid white rule in South Africa:
1948 – Apartheid, the Afrikaans word for separateness, was launched as a political concept by the white National Party (NP) in the run-up to the 1948 general election. It won popular support from white voters who wanted to maintain their dominance over the Black majority.
1950 – The government adopted key laws underpinning apartheid rule. The four main racial groups had to live in separate areas, all children had to be registered by race at birth, and sex between whites and other races was outlawed.
1960 – Sixty-nine unarmed Black protesters were killed by police during a protest at Sharpeville in the Transvaal. In the same year the government declared the African National Congress (ANC) and the hardline Pan-Africanist Congress illegal.
1961 – South Africa became a republic and left the Commonwealth. The ANC, then operating underground, launched a guerrilla campaign.
1964 – Nelson Mandela and seven others were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island, off Cape Town, on charges of conspiracy and sabotage.
1984 – President P.W. Botha cautiously moved to dismantle some apartheid laws, and announced the repeal of the ban on sex and marriage between whites and other races, following nationwide anti-apartheid rioting in townships.
1989 – F.W. de Klerk replaced Botha as president.
1990 – Around 30 banned groups, including the ANC, were legalised. Nelson Mandela released from prison.
1991 – Apartheid laws and racist restrictions were repealed and power-sharing talks started between the state and 16 anti-apartheid groups.
1993 – De Klerk apologised for apartheid for the first time, and said he deeply regretted the loss of freedom and dignity inflicted on Black people. In the same year Mandela and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel peace prize.
1994 – South Africa held its first all-race election. The ANC won by a landslide and Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first Black president.
(Compiled by Alex Richardson; Editing by Jan Harvey)