- De Klerk died on Thursday at his home in the Fresnaye neighbourhood of Cape Town following a battle with cancer.
- De Klerk declared Mandela’s release from jail after 27 years in a speech to South Africa’s Parliament on February 2, 1990.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela oversaw the end of South Africa’s white minority rule as the country’s last apartheid president died at the age of 85.
De Klerk died on Thursday at his home in the Fresnaye neighbourhood of Cape Town following a battle with cancer.
De Klerk was a divisive figure in South Africa. Many blamed him for acts of brutality against Black South Africans and anti-apartheid activists while in power, and some whites saw his efforts to remove apartheid as a betrayal.
De Klerk declared Mandela’s release from jail after 27 years in a speech to South Africa’s Parliament on February 2, 1990. The announcement energised a country that had been ridiculed and sanctioned by much of the world for decades for its horrific apartheid-era racial discrimination regime.
With South Africa’s isolation worsening and its once-vibrant economy faltering, de Klerk, who had been appointed president only five months before, declared the removal of the ban on the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid political organisations in the same speech.
As he spoke, some members of Parliament departed the chamber amid gasps.
Mandela was set free nine days later.
Mandela was appointed as the country’s first black president four years later, with black residents voting for the first time.
De Klerk and Mandela had already won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their tight collaboration in pushing South Africa away from institutionalised racism and toward democracy.
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