Mbeki: 'I'll send De Klerk the UN convention on apartheid'

Former president Thabo Mbeki.
Former president Thabo Mbeki.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES

Former president Thabo Mbeki has undertaken to send apartheid's last president, FW de Klerk, the UN convention declaring apartheid a crime against humanity.

“We were sitting next to each other in parliament, I asked him about that [De Klerk's comments that apartheid was not a crime against humanity].

“What transpires, is that he actually did not know that there is a convention declaring apartheid a crime against humanity,” Mbeki said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) political school which he addressed.

On Sunday, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation called on the De Klerk Foundation to withdraw a statement on Friday that apartheid was not a crime against humanity.

This after the EFF disrupted the state of the nation address on Thursday evening, demanding that De Klerk be kicked out.

In 1966, the UN General Assembly labelled apartheid a crime against humanity. The Apartheid Convention was the ultimate step in the condemnation of apartheid.

“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.

“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,” he said.

The UN has said apartheid was a crime against humanity because it met two key elements — it was both “widespread” and “systematic”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa could not begin his state of the nation address on Thursday evening, as the EFF asked that De Klerk be removed from the National Assembly chamber's public gallery.

However, De Klerk has remained adamant, saying through his foundation that the notion that apartheid was a crime against humanity had merely been “Soviet agitprop” — propaganda meant to agitate.

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