Johannesburg – South Africa’s last segregationist president, FW de Klerk, occupied a “historic but difficult space”, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s office said in a statement on Thursday.
Tutu led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) charged with uncovering the horrors of the white-minority regime.
De Klerk appeared before the commission, but never made a full account of the torture and killings committed by his apartheid government.
“The former president occupied a historic but difficult space in South Africa,” Tutu’s office said.
After de Klerk’s appearance at the TRC, “the Archbishop addressed the media to express disappointment that the former president had not made a more wholesome apology on behalf of the National Party to the nation for the evils of apartheid”, it said.
“But in more recent years, the Tutus and de Klerks developed closer relations.”
“The late FW De Klerk played an important role in South Africa’s history,” it added.
“At a time when not all of his colleagues saw the future trajectory of the country unfolding in the same way, he recognised the moment for change and demonstrated the will to act on it.”
De Klerk died Thursday at age 85, after a battle with cancer.
Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his resistance to apartheid. De Klerk shared the prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993 for negotiating the path to democracy.
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