Statesman and politician FW de Klerk passed away at his home in Cape Town on Thursday 11 November.

Tributes have been paid by those who had worked with him in both the National Party and in government.

De Klerk was the head of state from September 1989 until May 1994. He was one of South Africa’s two deputy presidents after the first democratic election in1994.

He was 85 years old.

Former Western Cape Premier and Cape Town Mayor, Pieter Marais say De Klerk walked a tough path but needs to be credited for his contribution to South Africa.

The leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen also shared a tribute to de Klerk.

Mr de Klerk’s contribution to South Africa’s transition to democracy cannot be overstated. His decision, within a year of taking over the presidency from PW Botha in 1989, to unban liberation movements, release Nelson Mandela from prison, lift the ban on political marches and begin the four year negotiation process towards our first democratic election was a watershed moment in our country’s history. De Klerk also took the decision to dismantle the country’s nuclear weapons programme. These things were not considered possible under any of his predecessors. John Steenhuisen

In a statement, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said: “de Klerk’s legacy is a big one. It is also an uneven one, something South Africans are called to reckon with in this moment.”

Speaking at De Klerk’s 70th birthday celebrations, Madiba said: “You and I have had our differences, some of them very public. Our basic respect for one another has, however, never diminished. And it was that respect for the other irrespective of all differences that made it possible for us, and our organisations, to work together and to negotiate that historic compromise that the world marvelled at. If we two old, or ageing, men have any lessons for our country and for the world, it is that solutions to conflicts can only be found if adversaries are fundamentally prepared to accept the integrity of one other.”

de Klerk is survived by his wife Elita whom he married in November 1998, son Jan and daughter Susan, his son Willem died of cancer in October 2020 at the age of 53.