De Klerk died following a long illness with cancer. FW de Klerk Foundation spokesperson Dave Steward confirmed his death. He said his wife Elita was with him in his final hour. De Klerk died earlier this morning at his home in Fresnaye, he said.
It is understood that President Cyril Ramaphosa will make an official statement later today.
Steward said De Klerk was diagnosed with mesothelioma earlier this year.
“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. Mr De Klerk was 85 years old. He is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren. The family will, in due course, make an announcement regarding funeral arrangements,” the foundation’s statement read.
In March the foundation revealed the illness in a statement on its website. He started going for treatments of immunotherapy shortly after the foundation announced his diagnosis. Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the tissue that lines the lungs
De Klerk’s presidency came to an end when the first democratic election was held in South Africa in 1994, after opening up talks with the ANC. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Nelson Mandela — South Africa’s first democratically elected president — in 1993.
In September 2020, the former statesman was booed and heckled by the Economic Freedom Fighters in parliament calling for him to leave.