FW de Klerk, the last white president under apartheid, on Monday unconditionally withdrew his statement justifying apartheid and apologized for the confusion, anger and hurt that it has caused.

In a statement, de Klerk voiced support for the Statute of Rome which defines “the crime of apartheid” as a crime against humanity and as “inhumane acts …committed in the context of an institutional regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

In an interview with South African Broadcasting Corporation last week, de Klerk said he does not believe that apartheid can be labelled a crime although he apologizes for it.

This has shocked the nation, prompting calls for de Klerk and his foundation to unconditionally retract the irresponsible statement.

On Sunday, the ANC condemned the statement, calling it “a blatant whitewash” of apartheid.

The statement, the ANC said, “flies in the face of our commitments to reconciliation and nation building.”

In his Monday statement, de Klerk said his foundation “remains deeply committed to national reconciliation and to the achievement of the foundational values on which the Constitution is based – including human dignity, the achievement of equality, the advancement of human rights and freedoms; non-racialism and non-sexism, the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law and a genuine multi-party system of democratic governance.” Enditem

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