Late FW de Klerk’s wife Elita: My husband was often misunderstood

A private mass and the national anthem preceded the ceremony, which featured a portrait of FW de Klerk between two candles.

Elita de Klerk (L) and President Cyril Ramaphosa at apartheid's last president FW de Klerk's state memorial service on Sunday 12 December 2021. Picture: PresidencyZA/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - At FW de Klerk's state memorial service, attendees have heard the freedom we know today would not be possible if not for the contribution of individuals like apartheid's last president.

The sentiment has been shared at the historic Groote Kerk in Cape Town on Sunday.

Among the dignitaries was President Cyril Ramaphosa who delivered the eulogy.

A private mass and the national anthem preceded the ceremony, which featured a portrait of FW de Klerk between two candles.

In his tribute to De Klerk, Ramaphosa reiterated he went against many hard-line Afrikaners: “We neither ignore nor must we seek to dismiss the anger and the pain and the disappointment of those who recall the place FW de Klerk occupied in the hierarchy of an oppressive state.”

The president also handed over a South African flag to De Klerk's widow, Elita.

She said her late husband was often misunderstood: “We were once watching Walter Sisulu’s funeral on TV and I remember him being very distraught and saying to me, ‘what have we done?’.”

De kKerk died last month at the age of 85 following a battle with cancer.

Four days of national mourning were declared in his honour.