There will be no state funeral for South Africa’s last white president, Frederick Willem de Klerk, his foundation said in a published statement.
Instead, Mr. de Klerk will have a private burial following cremation on Nov. 21 for family members that will be closed to the media. He was 85 years of age.
De Klerk, who won praise worldwide for his role in scrapping apartheid and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993, has a conflicted legacy among the country’s Black population for his failure to curb political violence in the run up to South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.
There was little appetite among South Africans for a state funeral – which ultimately was not scheduled to take place.
De Klerk passed away after a battle with cancer at his home in the Fresnaye area of Cape Town. After his death, his foundation published a video in which he apologized for “the pain and the hurt and the indignity and the damage” apartheid caused during decades of white minority rule.
His previous refusal to apologize came as recently as last year when he said he did not believe apartheid was a crime against humanity. He also angered right wing Afrikaners who viewed him as a traitor to their causes of white supremacy and nationalism by ending apartheid.
Lukhanyo Calata, son of the anti-apartheid activist Fort Calata, claimed the former president was directly involved in his father’s death and should have been held accountable.
Instead, he took “the secrets about the murders of our fathers to the grave.”
Fort Calata and fellow activists Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto and Sicelo Mhlauli were community leaders, guilty of such things as being part of a Marxist reading group, forming street committees, writing a letter to the municipality about dirty streets, fighting an unfair rental system and writing for a community newspaper.
In December 1984, Goniwe called for a boycott known as the “Black Christmas” of white-owned shops, infuriating the white business community. The boycott was successful as the Lingelihle community did not buy food or liquor from white-owned stores.
In 1985 they were abducted and murdered by South African security police under orders of the apartheid regime. The so-called Cradock Four who came from the town of Cradock, were members of the anti-apartheid United Democratic Front.
A document leaked to the press years after their deaths resulted in the removal of several police officers. At the second inquest, a judge ruled that the “security forces” were responsible, but named no one individual.
Calata, Goniwe, Mhlauli and Mkonto were buried in Cradock on July 20,1985, at a massive political funeral attended by thousands of people from all over the country. Speakers at the funeral included Beyers Naudé, Allan Boesak and Steve Tshwete. A message from the then president of the ANC Oliver Tambo was read. It was also the first time that a huge SA Communist Party flag was unfurled and openly displayed at the funeral.
De Klerk oversaw the end of white minority rule as the country’s last apartheid president and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela.