Stellenbosch historian, Prof Hermann Giliomee pays tribute to FW De Klerk

FW de Klerk
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Stellenbosch historian, Prof Hermann Giliomee, has paid tribute to the last apartheid President FW De Klerk. The statesman passed away yesterday at his Fresnaye home in Cape Town at the age of 85.

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.

VIDEO: RIP FW de Klerk – Apartheid’s last President FW de Klerk dies at 85 – a brief look at his life