De Klerk & apartheid: Anger mounts as more 'denials' emerge

17 February 2020 - 07:29 By Jessica Levitt
Former President FW de Klerk has sparked more controversy with his latest statement.
Former President FW de Klerk has sparked more controversy with his latest statement.
Image: Gallo Images / Nardus Engelbrecht

Former apartheid president FW de Klerk's name remains at the top of the Twitter trends list as thousands express their opinions about his controversial statement, in which he said apartheid was not a crime against humanity. Former president Thabo Mbeki explained that De Klerk did not know there was a UN convention declaring this.

Sona

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address (Sona) was halted for almost two hours after the EFF called for De Klerk to be removed from the house.

“We have a man who has got blood of innocent people in this house, which is supposed to represent the wills of our people — and therefore it’s incorrect for you to have extended  an invitation to De Klerk because De Klerk is a murderer.

“The people of Boipatong are still crying and De Klerk said apartheid was not a crime against humanity. He is an unrepentant apologist of apartheid; he is not willing to accept that apartheid was a crime against humanity,” said EFF leader Julius Malema.

Sona was suspended and the EFF later left the house.

De Klerk stays firm

The De Klerk Foundation on Friday released a statement responding to the EFF's calls to have him removed. In it, De Klerk reiterated that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, explaining that the UN convention declaring this contained “political initiatives of the Soviet Union.”

“In 1976, when the convention came into force, 23 of the 31 signatories were, according to Freedom House in New York, “not free”. Six were partly free and only two were free. Ironically, SA was classified as “partly free” and had a better human rights score than 27 of the signatories,” reads part of the statement.

Mbeki adds fuel to the fire

On Sunday, Thabo Mbeki, who was sitting next to De Klerk during Sona, said when he asked him about the statements, De Klerk did not know apartheid had been declared a crime against humanity.

“He did not know that there is a legal document in international law which says apartheid was a crime against humanity. I want to send him the convention so that he knows that there is an international convention which says apartheid is a crime against humanity. That is how we discussed it.”

Twitter responds

From shock to rage, South Africans have expressed their feelings on social media.


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