Although his comments, made at the beginning of the month, provoked indignation, African academics noted a feeling of continental amnesia with regard to the past, and affirm that this misplaced nostalgia is not an exclusively southern phenomenon. -African.
De Klerk helped end apartheid. He released Nelson Mandela from prison and established democracy in 1994. De Klerk shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for their role in ending the apartheid regime.
45% of South Africans today were not yet born when this happened. But the wounds of apartheid are still deep, as the heated exchange between de Klerk and the public broadcaster SABC shows.
Journalist Manelisi Dubase pressured the former president to accept that apartheid was a crime against humanity.
“I don’t entirely agree with that,” replied de Klerk, “I really apologize for apartheid, but there is a difference between calling something a crime, like genocide which is a crime. Apartheid cannot be a crime because there has never been genocide, “ he added.
As Dubase then noted, thousands of people (mostly black) were killed in internal violence during apartheid. In addition, countless protesters were killed in police custody and millions of South Africans were subjected daily to indignities, restrictions and unfair treatment solely on the basis of their race.
Former President De Klerk’s comments provoked general anger, including from the founding of Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The African National Congress (ANC) has declared that Mr. De Klerk’s comments is “a clear and deliberate attempt to incite racial hatred. “
“Apartheid was a brutal system of oppression and underdevelopment, and the United Nations rightly declared it in 1973 as a crime against humanity,” said the ANC spokesperson, Pule Mabe. “The nation is therefore indeed shocked, and we all ask it: Mr. de Klerk, was apartheid anything other than this definition by the whole world? “
The political party Fighters for Economic Freedom has requested the opening of proceedings against De Klerk.
The De Klerk foundation, which initially supported his remarks, withdrew them on Monday, saying apartheid was a crime against humanity.
Faced with this unexpected barrage of criticism, Frederik de Klerk had to “apologize for the confusion, anger and the injuries” that he created. “I agree” with Desmond Tutu that “it is not time to nitpick about how unacceptable apartheid was. It was totally unacceptable, “ he admitted, confusing himself with an apology.