The funeral of South Africa’s last white president, Frederik Willem (FW) de Klerk, who died on Thursday aged 85, will take place on November 21 in a private ceremony, his foundation said in a statement on Sunday.
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 complex legacy that left many grappling with conflicting emotions following his death.
The country’s Black population remains angered by his actions during apartheid and for his failure to curb political violence in the run up to South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. Many argued against him being granted a state funeral – a privilege his foundation’s statement confirmed he is not set to enjoy.
“The FW de Klerk Foundation wishes to announce that FW de Klerk’s cremation and funeral will take place on Sunday, 21 November,” it said in statement.
“It will be a private ceremony for family members and will not be open to media,” it said, providing no further detail.
De Klerk died aged 85 after a battle with cancer. After his death, his foundation published a video in which he apologised for crimes against other ethnic groups during decades of white minority rule in South Africa.
Remarks on his death from world leaders and citizens alike reflected the difficult space in history he occupied; a key player in one of the most infamous oppressive regimes but also one who moved to bring it to an end.
For some, his death marked a new chapter for South Africa.
“I feel like his death helps South Africa move forward in a way, away from all the criticism, the negativity, the racism,” 30-year-old South African Pusiletso Makofane said in Johannesburg on Thursday.
FW de Klerk’s last words to South Africans:
Mixed tributes for De Klerk
Stellenbosch historian, Prof Hermann Giliomee, has paid tribute to the last apartheid President FW De Klerk.
Giliomee says De Klerk tried his best during difficult times.
“A man with such momentous responsibility, you know. He tried his very best. He did what he thought was the right thing to do. He didn’t fully understand his opposition. If someone is to be blamed for the shortcomings of the settlements, then the ANC must carry as much as blame for that as he does,” says Giliomee.
Anti-apartheid struggle veteran and former Robben Island prisoner Mac Maharaj says De Klerk was a prisoner of his own past.
Maharaj, however, says De Klerk wrote himself into South African history, with unbanning of the ANC and the release of political prisoners.
He says he has mixed feelings about de Klerk’s legacy because he did not admit that apartheid was a crime against humanity.
“He has left this video as part of his apology, but he did not acknowledge that apartheid was a crime against humanity. It was that understanding that was necessary for him to make, to really be committed to transformation. Let us be generous. He has sought to make an apology. Let us treat it as given. Let us be open-minded and have all the facts on the table when we make our assessment of the historic role that individuals have made. Because at the end of the day, none of those individuals, on their own, take credit. The real credit in our country goes to the masses of our people,” says Maharaj.