By Promit Mukherjee
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South Africa’s last white president, F.W. de Klerk, who died on Thursday aged 85, apologised for the crimes committed to people of colour in a video released by his foundation on its website hours after his death.
“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,” de Klerk said https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/text-de-klerks-video-message-south-africa-2021-11-11.
In his message, he also cautioned that the country was facing many serious challenges, saying: “I’m deeply concerned about the undermining of many aspects of the Constitution, which we perceive almost day to day.”
It was not immediately clear when the recording was made.
De Klerk, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, is globally seen as a politician who negotiated a peaceful transfer of power from white-minority rule to a black-majority democratic government led by Nelson Mandela.
He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993.
But in South Africa, many saw him as a controversial figure who had shown little remorse for the crimes committed during the apartheid regime.
“It is true that in my younger years, I defended separate development … I did so when I was a member of Parliament, and I did so as I became a member of cabinet,” said a frail looking de Klerk in a navy blue suit, in what he termed his last message to the country.
“Afterwards, on many occasions, I apologized for the pain and the indignity that apartheid has brought to persons, to persons of colour in South Africa. Many believed me, but others didn’t.”
De Klerk sparked a widespread backlash last year when he told a national broadcaster that he did not believe apartheid was a crime against humanity.
(Reporting by Promit MukherjeeEditing by Alison Williams and Mark Potter)