Private funeral for former state president FW de Klerk
South Africans will not be able to witness the funeral of former president FW de Klerk. His family on Sunday announced that it would be holding a private send-off for him.
In a short statement issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation it was announced that the former statesman, who died on Thursday after a battle with cancer, would be cremated in a private ceremony.
“The FW de Klerk Foundation wishes to announce that FW de Klerk's cremation and funeral will take place on Sunday, November 21. It will be a private ceremony for family members and will not be open to media,” the foundation said.
According to the government’s funeral manual, De Klerk had been entitled to a State Funeral Category 1 funeral which is reserved for the president, president-elect and former presidents of the country.
With the ceremony being closed to the public, it was not immediately clear whether incumbent president Cyril Ramaphosa would be among the dignitaries who would be welcomed by the family for the funeral.
De Klerk is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren.
He disclosed on his 85th birthday in March that he was suffering from lung cancer.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said that De Klerk’s legacy was “a big one”.
“It is also an uneven one, something South Africans are called to reckon with in this moment,” it said.
De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with Nelson Mandela “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic SA”.
He had ruled over the final years of apartheid between 1989 and 1994.
A prominent Afrikaner, De Klerk had strongly defended the separation of the races during his long climb up the political ladder. But once he took over as president in 1989, he stunned his deeply divided nation, and the wider world.
As the leader of the National Party, which initiated and whose official policy was apartheid, he announced broad reforms and plans for a new constitution. They included the unbanning of liberation movements, the release of political leaders from prison, and the start of negotiations for a transition to a democratic country.
After the handover to democratic rule, he served for two more years as deputy president to Mandela.
The foundation sent its condolences to De Klerk's family.
“De Klerk will forever be linked to Nelson Mandela in the annals of SA history. Over the years we worked productively with him and the De Klerk Foundation on a number of projects,” it said.
The foundation provided a quote from Mandela, at De Klerk’s 70th birthday.
“You and I have had our differences, some of them very public. Our basic respect for one another has, however, never diminished. And it was that respect for the other, irrespective of all differences, that made it possible for us, and our organisations, to work together and to negotiate that historic compromise that the world marvelled at. If we two old, or ageing, men have any lessons for our country and for the world, it is that solutions to conflicts can only be found if adversaries are fundamentally prepared to accept the integrity of one other,” Mandela was quoted as saying.