Friday, July 27, 2007


By Peter Biles BBC Southern Africa correspondent.

FW De Klerk started dismantling apartheid in 1990. The former South African President, FW De Klerk, has denied any involvement in crimes or human rights abuses committed during the apartheid era.
At a news conference in Cape Town, he said he had been falsely accused of being implicated in an attempt on the life of Rev Frank Chikane.
Mr Chikane was a prominent anti-apartheid activist in the 1980s.
Mr De Klerk became president in 1989 and started to dismantle the apartheid regime, which ended five years later.
He said there was no basis to these accusations, and he wanted to clear the air.
The former South African leader is back in the limelight because a former law and order minister, Adriaan Vlok, is to go on trial next month, charged with trying to assassinate Mr Chikane in 1989.
I have, on these issues, a clear conscience
FW De Klerk
Mr De Klerk said he had not been president at that time, and had had no security portfolio in the government.
He said he was not guilty of any crime whatsoever.
Truth and reconciliation
"I'm not standing here to defend myself today. I have, on these issues, a clear conscience", Mr De Klerk said.
"I'm standing here to state my case, not in a defensive spirit, but in a spirit that I am owed a fair deal in my own country"

Frank Chikane was nearly killed 18 years ago.
The former president said reconciliation in South Africa was more advanced than was generally acknowledged, but there was a small element who wanted retribution and the relegation of the white minority to the position of second class citizens.
He stressed this was not the approach of President Thabo Mbeki or the ANC government, but - said Mr De Klerk - fires were being stoked by some malevolent activists.
He said the state had the right to prosecute anyone who had failed to get amnesty from South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but a witch-hunt should be avoided.
Last year, Adriaan Vlok, the former minister, made an extraordinary apology to Mr Chikane - who is now Director General of the president's office.
He washed the feet of the man whom the apartheid government had once tried to poison.



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