South Africa has proclaimed four days of national mourning following the death on November 11 of its last white president, Frederick de Klerk, who, despite his role in ending apartheid, remains a divisive figure in the country.
De Klerk announced Nelson Mandela’s release and the legalization of his party, the African National Congress (ANC), and other anti-segregationist parties in an unexpected speech to Parliament in February 1990, opening the way for the end of white rule and the country’s democratic transition.
From Wednesday evening to Sunday evening, a national day of mourning will be celebrated, with the national flag flying at half-mast as a gesture of respect, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office.
On Sunday, a private funeral will be held. On a yet-to-be-determined date, a formal remembrance will also be place.
The death of FW de Klerk, who received the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Nelson Mandela in 1993, has elicited varied reactions in South Africa, with some blaming him for never making a genuine atonement for apartheid’s crimes.
The former president attempts to alter this impression in a posthumous video published just hours after his death, in which he apologizes for “unintended consequences.”