JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s last white president, F.W. de Klerk, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, died on Thursday aged 85
“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 FW De Klerk Foundation said in a statement.
De Klerk had been earlier this year diagnosed with mesothelioma – “cancer that affects the lining of the lungs”, the FW de Klerk Foundation said on its website.
He was receiving immunotherapy for the illness.
“I, without qualification, apologise for the pain and the hurt and the indignity and the damage that apartheid has done to Black, Brown and Indians in South Africa,” de Klerk said.
It was not immediately clear when the recording was made.
He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993.
But in South Africa, many saw him as a controversial figure who had shown little remorse for the crimes committed during the apartheid regime.
“It is true that in my younger years, I defended separate development … I did so when I was a member of Parliament, and I did so as I became a member of the cabinet,” said a frail looking de Klerk in a navy blue suit, in what he termed his last message to the country.
“Afterwards, on many occasions, I apologized for the pain and the indignity that apartheid has brought to persons, to persons of colour in South Africa. Many believed me, but others didn’t.”
De Klerk sparked a widespread backlash last year when he told a national broadcaster that he did not believe apartheid was a crime against humanity.