The FW de Klerk Foundation has unconditionally withdrawn its statement that insisted that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.
Apartheid’s last President, FW de Klerk, authored the Foundation’s retraction on Monday. He said he had “taken note of the vehement reaction” to the Foundation’s statement issued on Friday.
He added, “I agree with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation that this is not the time to quibble about the degrees of unacceptability of apartheid. It was totally unacceptable.”
Apology for ‘anger, hurt, confusion’
“The FW de Klerk Foundation has accordingly decided to withdraw its statement of 14 February unconditionally and apologises for the confusion, anger and hurt that it has caused,” de Klerk said.
De Klerk first made his controversial comment that apartheid was not a crime against humanity during an SABC News interview earlier this month.
However, the matter gained renewed publicity when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) objected to his presence at last week’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
The Foundation further compounded the controversy on Friday by issuing a statement doubling down on de Klerk’s views.
It said, “The idea that apartheid was ‘a crime against humanity’ was, and remains, an ‘agitprop’ project initiated by the Soviets and their ANC/SACP allies to stigmatise white South Africans by associating them with genuine crimes against humanity.”
“Agitprop” refers to political propaganda and was commonly associated with with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The Foundation also attempted to justify its views by comparing the number of lives lost during apartheid with those lost in other countries during colonialism, including in Kenya’s Mau Mau uprising against the British and the Algerian uprising against the French.
However, this drew even more condemnation. In his statement on Monday, de Klerk said the Foundation supports Article 7(1) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This provision includes the crime of apartheid among crimes against humanity. De Klerk nevertheless makes no mention of the 1973 United Nations convention that declared apartheid a crime against humanity.
He concluded, “The FW de Klerk Foundation remains deeply committed to national reconciliation and to the achievement of the foundational values on which the Constitution is based – including human dignity, the achievement of equality, the advancement of human rights and freedoms; non-racialism and non-sexism, the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law and a genuine multi-party system of democratic governance.”
To read de Klerk’s statement in full, click here.