South Africa’s last apartheid-era president FW de Klerk has died at his home in Cape Town on Thursday at the age of 85.
Mr de Klerk, who was also a key figure in the nation’s transition to democracy, had been diagnosed with cancer this year, a spokesman said.
Mr de Klerk was head of state between September 1989 and May 1994.
In 1990 he announced he was releasing anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, leading to multi-party polls in 1994.
His foundation said in a statement: “It is with the deepest sadness that the FW de Klerk Foundation must announce that former president FW de Klerk died peacefully at his home in Fresnaye earlier this morning following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer.”
He is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren.
Referred to as “the last white ruler of South Africa,” De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with Nelson Mandela “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”
The family will, in due course, make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements.