South Africa's last apartheid president de Klerk is dead

De Klerk had announced a cancer diagnosis earlier this year.

De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993 for dismantling apartheid and ushering in democracy in South Africa [AFP]

The last white president to lead South Africa, FW de Klerk, has died, his foundation announced on Thursday, November 11, 2021.

The 85-year-old died at his home in Cape Town following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer that forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.

De Klerk was head of state between 1989 and 1994, and was the last president of apartheid-era South Africa before the transition to democracy.

He released the nation's iconic anti-apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela, who had served 27 years in prison.

The two were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their work in ending apartheid in racially-charged South Africa at the time.

Mandela went on to become president in 1994, and de Klerk served as vice president between then and 1996 when he withdrew from government to lead the opposition.

He remained a controversial figure in South African politics until his death.

"He is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren," the foundation said in a brief statement on Thursday.

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