Former President Thabo Mbeki has joined South Africans in condemning utterances made by former deputy president F.W. de Klerk when he said he did not fully agree that apartheid was a crime against humanity.

Mbeki says the statement by de Klerk is absurd.

“I had a brief discussion with De Klerk because we were sitting more or less next to each other in parliament, and what transpired is that he actually didn’t know that there is a convention declaring apartheid a crime against humanity. He said to me that he had been asked a question and he had said apartheid was reprehensible, he apologised for the bad things that had happened. But he was making a very narrow comment. He didn’t know that there is a legal document in the international law that says apartheid is a crime against humanity. So I said to him let’s not take the matter further because I want to send him the convention so that he knows that there is an international convention which says apartheid is a crime against humanity.”

Mbeki was speaking on the sidelines of the ANC KZN PEC political school in Durban on Sunday.

In a statement earlier, the De Klerk Foundation said the United Nation’s (UN) classification of apartheid as a crime against humanity formed part of an agenda by the then Soviet Union, the ANC, and its allies, to stigmatise white South Africans.

The foundation echoed remarks made by De Klerk in a TV interview with SABC News, saying that Apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

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Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Police, Cassel Mathale has also condemned the De Klerk Foundation’s claim.

Mathale was speaking at a Ministerial Imbizo in Alexandra, where the community was being engaged in policing and safety issues.

“We will not allow individuals or institutions to distort history. I want to reaffirm here, in Alexandra on Sunday, that resolution was a resolution of the United Nations that was arrived at democratically. That foundation must retract that statement.”

‘Courage and compassion’

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation has backed the Council of Churches’ (SACC) call that De Klerk and his Foundation retract their comments about Apartheid.

The Tutu Legacy Foundation says in a statement that South Africa is currently on an economic precipice – with poor people suffering the most. It has called on leaders – especially from the white community – to demonstrate courage and compassion rather than stoke tensions in the country.

Earlier, the SACC says the recent remarks made by former deputy president and his foundation, go against the values for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

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The ANC alliance partner, SACP, has also, in a statement, strongly condemned what it says were the De Klerk Foundation’s attempts to disguise the Apartheid regime’s involvement in fostering so-called “black on black” violence.