President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his condolences to Elita De Klerk, the wife of the late former President FW de Klerk, and her family following the news of his passing.
De Klerk, who presided over a bloody state of emergency during the apartheid era in the 1980s until his party lost power to the ANC in 1994, passed away earlier on Thursday morning after an extended period of illness.
“I have learned with great sadness of the passing of former Deputy President and former State President Frederik Willem “FW” de Klerk.
“The Former Deputy President passed away earlier on Thursday, November 11, after an extended period of illness. He was 85 years of age.
“I offer my sincerest condolences to his wife, Elita, his children Jan and Susan, and his grandchildren.
“My thoughts are also with Mr de Klerk’s friends and associates and the management and staff of the FW de Klerk Foundation.”
President Ramaphosa said while de Klerk was a leader of a party that was “vastly discredited” in relation of the role the party played in enforcing apartheid, he played a vital role in South Africa’s transition to democracy in the 1990s, which originated from his first meeting in 1989 with President Nelson Mandela who was a political prisoner at that stage.
“He took the courageous decision to unban political parties, release political prisoners and enter into negotiations with the liberation movement amid severe pressure to the contrary from many in his political constituency.
“The Deputy President was a committed South African who embraced the democratic constitutional dispensation and placed the long-term future of the country ahead of narrow political interests.
“Serving as Deputy President from 1994 to 1996, Mr de Klerk played an important role in the Government of National Unity, dedicating himself to the constitutional imperative of healing the divisions and conflict of our past.
“Deputy President de Klerk’s passing, weeks before the 25th anniversary of our democratic Constitution, should inspire all of us to reflect on the birth of our democracy and on our shared duty to remain true to the values of our Constitution.”
The President said the FW de Klerk Foundation will in due course make announcements regarding funeral arrangements.