Just as the furore surrounding recent comments by former president FW de Klerk regarding apartheid and its status as a crime against humanity begins to die down, a group of 10 Afrikaner academics who identify as having benefited from apartheid have stoked the fires of the dying conversation by signing a declaration condemning and apologising for apartheid.
De Klerk’s foundation has since withdrawn the statement.
Sowetan Live reports that the academics, who called themselves “concerned South Africans”, released a declaration on Sunday which states that “the continued denialism around apartheid being a crime against humanity” was insensitive and aimed at avoiding the truth.
Among the declaration’s signees are minister of the Dutch Reform Church Dr André Bartlett, journalist Foeta Krige, member of the advisory council of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation emeritus professor Willie Esterhuyse and former diplomat and ambassador Dawie Jacobs.
“We deeply regret the suffering of our fellow citizens under that inhumane and humiliating system and express our sincere apology towards all fellow South Africans,” wrote the group.
“We also regret the fact that all South Africans were prevented from mixing freely socially and economically, thus being denied the enjoyment of the rich diversity of the Rainbow Nation and subjected to indoctrination based on fear and prejudice. It has left our society all the poorer for it.”
In the wake of the comment, which the former president made during an interview with SABC News, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called on de Klerk to return the Nobel Prize he won, alleging that he had blood on his hands and was therefore not a peacemaker.
Gauteng DA leader and federal leader candidate John Moodey, on the other hand, labelled the EFF’s calls “a step too far”.
During his reply to the state of the nation (Sona) debate, President Cyril Ramaphosa countered De Klerk’s statements.
“Apartheid was inherently a crime against humanity. It was a crime against the oppressed people of South Africa even before it was so declared by the United Nations in 1973,” he said.
“It’s treasonous to say apartheid wasn’t a crime against humanity.”
(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)