Last South African apartheid president FW de Klerk dies at 85

Last South African apartheid president FW de Klerk dies at 85
© The Associated Press

F.W. de Klerk — South Africa's last apartheid-era president — died at the age of 85 in his Cape Town-area home following a battle with cancer, reports The Associated Press

De Klerk was a Nobel Prize recipient alongside Nelson Mandela, though he many people blamed de Klerk for violence against Black South Africans and some blamed him for the rise in anti-apartheid activists and felt betrayed when he ended segregation measures, according to the AP. 

In February of 1990, de Klerk announced Mandela's release from prison following 27 years behind bars to the shock of many parliament members, the news service noted, and Mandela then left his cell nine days later. 

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Four years following his release, Mandela was elected as the first Black president of South Africa when Black South Africans were finally allowed to vote.

De Klerk at the time declared the country would be "a new South Africa," according to the AP, as political tensions remained high through negotiations out of the apartheid era as a new constitution was formed. 

According to de Klerk, he and Mandela became friends later in their lives and visited one another's homes, though de Klerk was never fully accepted as an icon for ending apartheid as Mandela was, the AP noted. 

“Sometimes, Mr. de Klerk does not get the credit that he deserves,” Nobel laureate and former archbishop Desmond Tutu stated in an interview, according to the news service 

Even though de Klerk played a significant part in transforming South Africa, he still defended the National Party, which staunchly supported apartheid, which caused suffering and discrimination for millions of Black South Africans, the AP noted.