De Klerk’s death is a reminder of the ‘unresolved pain’ in South Africa

For South Africa Lukhanyo Calata, the son of the slain assassin, this month’s death of the last apartheid president FW de Klerk represents a lost cause. “He’s gone, and he’s gone with the answers we need,” Calata said.

Calata Fort’s father was murdered by a racist group and, 36 years later, no one was convicted. Calata’s outrage is directed at the ruling African National Congress in a bid to stamp out anti-apartheid protests which he said sold “the blood of our ancestors”.

His response to de Klerk’s death also highlights the deep divisions between the man who shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in a discussion of democratic change but who, as president, was responsible for state atrocities.

De Klerk foundation says he will be buried in a family-only ceremony on Sunday. President Cyril Ramaphosa, 30 years after meeting with de Klerk on anti-apartheid talks, said the South African flag should be flown at half-dead before the funeral and that a state memorial service would be held later to commemorate him as Vice President. under Mandela.

A few hours after de Klerk’s death, his foundation was released video on his website where he apologized for the “pain and suffering, shame and degradation” that occurred as a result of racism.

Even during the democratic transition, de Klerk was seen as “a man who spoke well, but had an iron fist behind his back,” and used oppression as the debate progressed, “said Dale McKinley, a South African researcher and analyst. .

Students protest anti-apartheid protests in Johannesburg in 1968. South Africa is embroiled in controversy over FW de Klerk © AP’s legacy

And as disillusionment with democracy has grown in recent years, it has become increasingly prevalent among young people, ”he added. “There is a real need to disclose all historical facts. . . part of the transition agreement was not to remove the bones from the room. “

In general, de Klerk’s legacy is “criticized,” he said. “The ANC, in spite of its problems and sectarian strife, will see FW de Klerk as the person who supported them and should be recognized,” and others will see him as a man who has avoided cracking down on racism, he said. At the time, “many Africans thought they had been sold.”

The murder of Calata’s father by three other men is one of the most unprecedented cases of racism, although a 1993 investigation found that soldiers killed the “Cradock Four”, and the South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) denied amnesty in 1999 to its killers. De Klerk attended meetings of the apartheid state security council that demanded the “removal” of freedom fighters.

De Klerk’s foundation confirmed in July this year that there had been an “unstable alliance between the ANC leadership and civil servants before 1994” to stop protests.

Earlier this month, South Africa’s justice minister Ronald Lamola said a judge should lead an investigation into why delays in prosecution were delayed, but he could not confirm whether the investigation was open. “I feel like I have been betrayed, like so many other South Africans,” said Yasmin Sooka, a human rights lawyer at the TRC, referring to the injustice.

“Cradock Four”. Fort Calata (second from right) and three other activists killed by government agents in 1985. No one was convicted © The Washington Post / Getty Images

At stake, obviously, is our commitment on the integrity of the South African judiciary in the wake of the alleged corruption in the Zuma administration. “In South Africa there is a culture of impunity,” Calata said. “Lack of accountability comes from the past – a time of apartheid.”

Despite a video released after his death, many say de Klerk wanted to disrupt in the past. In his later years he published his views to the TRC – that discrimination was wrong, but not a crime against humanity. “Unless we have courts to prove that apartheid is a crime against humanity, that apartheid was a terrorist country, which created genocide. . . It will be almost 20 years before all this happened, ”said Sooka.

De Klerk was also charged with conspiracy to commit atrocities in a 1993 coup in which he allowed five children to be killed in their beds, as well as for his government’s involvement in so-called “black on black” political violence when apartheid ended, Sooka said.

Calatas can be fair. The South African Judiciary has told the couple it will decide next month if it comes to court. Otherwise, Calata will fight.

“If it means I have to do this for another 20, 30 years, that’s what I have to do,” he said. The whole of South Africa “has had unresolved issues – unresolved grievances,” he said. “For my family, there is very little light [of hope] that it may go well with me. ”

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