Roundup: Low-key funeral held for South Africa's former president FW de Klerk

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CAPE TOWN, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- A low-key funeral was held Sunday for South Africa's last apartheid president Frederik Willem (FW) de Klerk, who died of cancer on Nov. 11 at the age of 85 at his home in Cape Town.

No detailed information about the funeral has been released so far.

The FW de Klerk Foundation, established by the former president, previously announced that de Klerk's funeral and cremation would take place Sunday as a private ceremony for family members and would not be open to media.

On Monday morning, South African law enforcement officers were seen at de Klerk's home in Cape Town. His wife Elita left the house in a car with others around 11 a.m., local time, for a memorial park in the city, according to media reports.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa directed that the National Flag be flown at half-mast as a sign of national mourning from sunset Wednesday until Sunday evening. The presidency said the government would at a future date host a state memorial service.

According to the official funeral policy manual issued by the presidency, former president and former deputy president of the Republic of South Africa are entitled to a state funeral upon death, both posts de Klerk had once held.

Following his death, de Klerk was praised for his role in South Africa's transition to democracy in the 1990s by President Ramaphosa, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and others. Some people, however, argued that de Klerk was the president of the apartheid regime, under which many black South Africans suffered, and that in an interview in 2020 he didn't agree that apartheid was a crime against humanity, which he later withdrew and apologized for it, and thus he didn't deserve a state funeral. Some people also blamed him for killings during the apartheid.

In a written response to Xinhua, FW de Klerk Foundation Chairman Dave Steward said the foundation and de Klerk's family are gratified by "the overwhelmingly positive sentiments regarding FW de Klerk that have been expressed by mainstream South Africa."

As is the case with any leader who has had an impact on history, there are also critics from the left and the right, he said, adding that de Klerk played a "critically important role" in leading South Africa from the white minority rule and apartheid to the establishment of South Africa's non-racial constitutional democracy.

He and his government continued with the dismantling of apartheid and removed the last vestiges of apartheid legislation, said Steward.

Born in 1936 in Johannesburg, de Klerk, the son of a cabinet minister, during his presidency from September 1989 to May 1994 initiated and presided over the inclusive negotiations that led to the dismantling of apartheid established in 1948 and the adoption of South Africa's first fully democratic constitution in December 1993. He and Nelson Mandela, who later became South Africa's first black president, shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

De Klerk repeated his apology in a video clip for the hurt that apartheid has done to black, brown and Indian people in the country. He said he realized that apartheid was wrong since 1980s. Enditem

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