Charles Molele

Former President Thabo Mbeki has vowed to send apartheid’s last president, FW de Klerk, a copy of the 1973 UN General Assembly Convention declaring apartheid a crime against humanity.

This is after de Klerk told him on Thursday in Parliament that he didn’t know there was ever a legal document which declared apartheid a crime against humanity.

“We were sitting next to each other in Parliament. I asked him about that. What transpires is that he actually did not know that there is a convention declaring apartheid a crime against humanity,” said Mbeki.

Mbeki was speaking to reporters at KwaZulu-Natal’s ANC provincial executive committee political school, which he also addressed.

“He said to me he had been asked a question, and he had said apartheid was reprehensible, he apologised for the bad things that had happened but he was making a very narrow comment,” said Mbeki, recalling his conversation with De Klerk on Thursday night.

“He did not know that there is a legal document in international law which says apartheid was a crime against humanity. I want to send him the convention, so that he knows that there is an international convention which says apartheid is a crime against humanity. That is how we discussed it.”

After a few days of taciturnity, the ANC condemned de Klerk’s statement on Friday denying that apartheid was a crime against humanity.

“Mr FW De Klerk’s assertion in the interview, 25 years into our democracy, which denies that Apartheid was a crime against humanity, flies in the face of our commitments to reconciliation and nation-building,” said party’s spokesperson Pule Mabe on Sunday afternoon.

“The ANC calls on Mr De Klerk and his foundation not co undermine the compact that forms the foundation of our democracy, which is that we deal with the past through institutional mechanisms and the rule of law.”

“The decision and the motivation therefore by first the OAU and then the whole world through the UN to declare apartheid a crime against humanity, has been well documented. The FW de Klerk Foundation, instead of continuing to plead blind ignorance, would do well to research this history.”

De Klerk, in a statement issued by his foundation on Friday, said the idea that apartheid was ‘a crime against humanity’ was an ‘agitprop’ project initiated by the Soviets and their ANC/SACP allies to stigmatize white South Africans by associating them with genuine crimes against humanity – which have generally included totalitarian repression and the slaughter of millions of people.

“There was never a Genocide under apartheid. More people died because of black-on-black violence,” he argued recently.

On Thursday, EFF’s leader Julius Malema said De Klerk did not deserve to be a guest of a democratic Parliament because he has shown no remorse for the atrocities committed under apartheid.

“We have a man who has got blood of innocent people in this house which is supposed to represent the will of our people. And therefore, it is incorrect for you (Madam Speaker Thandi Modise) to have extended an invitation to De Klerk because he is a murderer, he has got blood on his hands, the people are turning in their graves,” said Malema.  

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