JONATHAN JANSEN | Calculating to the end, FW botched his last chance to free himself

He could have atoned for apartheid by admitting it was a crime and pleading for forgiveness. He didn’t

17 November 2021 - 20:39

There have been some outstanding reflections penned on the recently deceased FW de Klerk. The best among them came from the desks of Barney Pityana, Redi Tlhabi and Antjie Krog. However, none of them tried to grapple in any depth with the man himself, focusing mainly on what he did or did not do — and the motives for his actions. Nobody asked the more difficult question as it applied to De Klerk and white South Africans in general: having done evil, how do you live with yourself?

On the first of three occasions that I met de Klerk, one thing quickly became clear. The man was no fool. He was quick and clever, intellectually as well as politically. PW Botha was basically a skollie, a Kovsie dropout and political bully who notched up stars on his belt for violently upending meetings of his rivals. FW, on the other hand, was a thoughtful, calculating politician...

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