Former President Thabo Mbeki has said FW de Klerk did not know that there was a United Nations convention declaring apartheid a crime against humanity.
Mbeki made the comments while speaking to the media outside an African National Congress (ANC) “political school” in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday.
He said, “I had a brief discussion with de Klerk because we were sitting more or less close to each other in Parliament. I asked him about that.”
‘He was making a very narrow comment’
Mbeki continued, “What transpired is that he actually did not know that there is a convention declaring apartheid a crime against humanity.
“He said to me that he had been asked a question and he had said that apartheid was reprehensible, he apologised for the bad things that had happened, but he was making a very narrow comment.
“He didn’t know that there was a legal document in international law which says apartheid is a crime against humanity. So, I said to him, ‘Let’s not take the matter further.’
“Because I want to send him the convention so that he knows that there is an international convention that says apartheid is a crime against humanity.”
ANC condemns de Klerk Foundation statement
De Klerk, who served as apartheid’s last President, kicked off the controversy earlier this month when he argued that apartheid wasn’t a crime against humanity in an SABC News interview.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) delayed the start of the State of the Nation Address on Thursday last week with its demands that de Klerk be asked to leave Parliament’s chambers over his remarks.
However, the FW de Klerk Foundation supported his remarks in a statement released on Friday.
It argued that the idea of apartheid being a crime against humanity was agitprop (political propaganda) started by the then Soviet Union along with the ANC and the South African Communist Party.
On Sunday, the ANC condemned the statement as a “blatant whitewash.” It added that de Klerk’s denial “flies in the face of our commitments to reconciliation and nation-building.”
The party also urged the government “to tighten provisions around hate speech and declare the denial of apartheid as a crime against humanity as a crime.”
In a statement on Saturday, the EFF also said it would push for an inquest into de Klerk’s role in various killings that took place during apartheid.