Biography and Post Political Activities
FW de Klerk was the target of countless baseless attacks during his presidency and throughout his retirement. These attacks centred on the following issues:
- His relationship with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Although FW de Klerk originally supported the idea of a TRC, he was deeply worried about its unbalanced composition and its clear bias. These misgivings later proved to be well-founded by the manner in which the TRC treated him.
- Allegations that he knew of and was involved with gross violations of human rights during his period in the cabinet and subsequently while he was president. On 26 July 2007 he dealt in detail with the latest of these assaults on his reputation and speculated on their origin.
- FW de Klerk was once again bitterly attacked after his death – with allegations that he never made a sincere apology for apartheid, that he had been involved in gross violations of human rights and that he had not initiated reforms from the “goodness of his heart” but because he was forced to do so by the ANC’s armed struggle and sanctions. In an article on 26 November 2021 Dave Steward, Chairman of the Foundation refuted these charges.
- His views on apartheid as a crime against humanity. In his statement of 17 February 2020, FW de Klerk acknowledged unambiguously that apartheid was a crime against humanity. In a speech to the Cape Town Press Club on 1 October 2020 he expanded on this question by describing how apartheid had come into being and how his government had abolished it.
- The “Cradock Four”. Before and after his death, there were allegations that FW de Klerk had somehow or other played a role in the murder of the four Cradock activists in 1986. According to an analysis by the FW de Klerk Foundation FW de Klerk and other civilian ministers played no role whatsoever in this tragic incident.
- The Boipatong Massacre. Following the Boipatong massacre on 17 June 1992, Nelson Mandela accused FW de Klerk of having been involved in the incident. Subsequently, Archbishop Tutu also accused the former president of having had pre-knowledge of the attack. However, independent investigations, the TRC’s own Amnesty Committee and the court that tried IFP hostel dwellers found that there has been no involvement by the government or by the police.
- The killing of five teenagers in Umtata on 8 October 1993. The circumstances relating to the tragic deaths of the teenagers were set out in a statement that the FW de Klerk Foundation issued on 19 January 2015.