Lukhanyo Calata happy with De Klerk's muzzling in US

The last apartheid president FW de Klerk's administration has a lot to answer for its role in making South Africa such a violent country, says the writer. /AMBROSE PETERS
The last apartheid president FW de Klerk's administration has a lot to answer for its role in making South Africa such a violent country, says the writer. /AMBROSE PETERS
Image: AMBROSE PETERS

One of the families of the Cradock Four victims has welcomed the decision by US legal association to cancel an event meant to be addressed by former president FW de Klerk.

The American Bar Association (ABA) on Saturday announced the cancellation of its planned conversation with De Klerk after much protest by various organisations locally.

Yesterday, Lukhanyo Calata, the son of the anti-apartheid activist Fort Calata, who was part of the Cradock Four who were killed in June 1985, welcomed the decision.

"We're very happy that the ABA took our request seriously and that they cancelled the event where he was going to speak. We're very ecstatic about it," he said.

De Klerk, who was the president during the last days of apartheid, was scheduled to speak at an annual event by ABA about the rule of law, constitutional democracy, minority rights and racism in a virtual meeting on July 2.

US-based legal fraternity association through its international law section is involved in the development of legal international policy, promotion of rule of law and the education of international law practitioners.

"We just hope that other organisations around the world follow in the footsteps of the ABA and think very carefully about inviting De Klerk to come and speak on issues such as rule of law and constitutionality and all of those kinds of things," Calata said.

ABA's Bill Choyke confirmed that the programme was cancelled as presenting it "would not help the association advance our Goal III priority" which seeks to "eliminate bias and enhance diversity".

Calata said De Klerk has also not formally "through his mouth" acknowledged that apartheid was a crime against humanity.

"De Klerk has never valued black lives. De Klerk has never told us the truth about what his role was in those meetings. De Klerk has never apologised for his role in the apartheid murders of black people."

The FW de Klerk Foundation said the former deputy president withdrew from participating in the event following an uproar.

"Leaders should be judged not by the situation they inherited from their predecessors but by their success or failure in wrestling with the historic forces and passions of their times - and by the legacy that they leave to those who come after them," the foundation said.

"De Klerk has acknowledged that the apartheid system that he inherited from history was 'a crime against humanity' as defined in the Statute of Rome.

"His contribution was to abolish apartheid and to lead the way to adoption of a nonracial democratic constitution for all South Africans."

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