Former South African President FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning the FW de Klerk Foundation said.
“It is with the deepest sadness that the FW de Klerk Foundation must announce that former President FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer,” the foundation said in a statement.
Earlier this year the foundation announced that De Klerk, 85, was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, which is a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs.
According to the foundation the family will, in due course, make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements.
De Klerk, who was the head of state from September 1989 until May 1994, was the last president of Apartheid South Africa and the speech he delivered on 2 February 1990 was instrumental in beginning the negotiated transition from apartheid to constitutional democracy.
In his speech he announced sweeping reforms that included the unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC), The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other anti-apartheid organizations, the release of political prisoners -including Nelson Mandela- the end of the state of emergency and a moratorium on the death penalty.
FW de Klerk’s actions and speech marked the official end of segregation policies and the official start of the negotiations that led to a constitutional democracy with equal rights for all South Africans.
De Klerk was caught in controversy in 2012 and 2020 when he defended aspects of apartheid during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and refused to concede that the system was a crime against humanity.
The former president is survived by is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren.