Frederik Willem (FW) de Klerk, who negotiated a peaceful transfer of power to a government under Nelson Mandela, has died.
The former South African leader died Thursday at 85 after a battle with cancer, Per Second News gathered.
“Former President FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer,” the FW de Klerk Foundation said in a statement on Thursday morning.
In March he was found to have mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the tissue lining the lungs.
“He is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren,” the foundation said, and that the family would in due course make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements.
De Klerk was feted globally for his role in scrapping apartheid and he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993. The following year Mandela won South Africa’s first multiracial elections with his African National Congress (ANC).
But de Klerk’s role in the transition to democracy is still highly contested more than 20 years after the end of apartheid.
Many black South Africans were angered by his failure to curb political violence in the turbulent years leading up to the 1994 elections, while right-wing white Afrikaners, who had long ruled the country under de Klerk’s National Party, viewed him as a traitor to their pursuit of white supremacy.
De Klerk again was criticised last year when he told a national broadcaster that he did not believe apartheid was a crime against humanity, as declared by the United Nations.