De Klerk missed many chances to reconcile with South Africans - Tutu Foundation

Civil organisations have reflected on the legacy of the last leader under apartheid and a key role player in the country’s transition to democracy following the death of South Africa's last apartheid president, FW de Klerk.

FILE: Former apartheid president FW de Klerk. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - There has been mixed reaction to the passing of former apartheid President FW De Klerk.

Civil organisations have reflected on the legacy of the last leader under apartheid and a key role player in the country’s transition to democracy.

De Klerk died at his home in Cape Town on Thursday, at the age of 85, after battling cancer.

He jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993 for their role in dismantling apartheid.

GALLERY: FW de Klerk - SA's last apartheid president through the years

While De Klerk has been hailed as a peacemaker, his reputation has grown more complicated in recent years – declining to talk about the deaths of anti-apartheid activists and the violence of the early 1990s.

In a message from beyond the grave, apartheid's last president, FW de Klerk apologised for the pain and indignity of apartheid.

His foundation released a video after his death.

"I without qualification apologise for the pain and the hurt and the indignity that apartheid has done to black, brown and Indians," the former statesman said.

READ: In his last words, De Klerk still didn't call apartheid a crime against humanity

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said that De Klerk had missed many chances to reconcile with all South Africans.

This was echoed by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s Neshan Bolton, who said that De Klerk failed to fully recognise the devastation that the system of apartheid caused to millions of South Africans.

"He failed to recognise the full impact of apartheid on black South Africans, to recognise why it was a crime against humanity. He could have done more to provide the information that many of the victims of apartheid needed and to help them in the process to bring about closure. There are huge blemishes on his record."

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said that history would remember De Klerk’s foresight in realising that apartheid had become untenable and that its fall was inevitable.

WATCH: In his final words, De Klerk still didn't call apartheid a crime against humanity