The FW de Klerk Foundation says that defending former President F W de Klerk against the ‘hands-dripping-with-blood’ attack on him by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema is not an attempt to ‘whitewash the injustices that were undoubtedly committed under apartheid’.

The Foundation said in a statement: ‘None of this is meant to whitewash the injustices that were undoubtedly committed under apartheid. However, we need a balanced understanding of the past – not one based on a simplistic black/white, good/evil framework – but on a framework that reflects the infinite shades of grey that actually characterise history.’

The statement followed De Klerk and his wife Elita’s having to endure the ‘spectacle’ of ‘wave after wave of vitriolic attacks by Julius Malema and EFF members of Parliament’ at the start of the sitting for the State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

The EFF’s demands that De Klerk – a former Deputy President in Nelson Mandela’s post-1994 government – be removed from the chamber were rejected by Speaker Thandi Modise.

The Foundation said: ‘De Klerk has repeatedly acknowledged the grave injustices committed under apartheid and has sincerely apologised on a number of occasions to those who suffered under previous governments. These were more than empty words: he dedicated his entire presidency to the abolition of apartheid and the negotiation of a new Constitution that would entrench the rights of all South Africans regardless of race. He oversaw the process that culminated in the repeal of all the remaining apartheid laws.’

The statement cites the work of John Allen, a close associate of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who ‘acknowledges in his book “Rabble Rouser for Peace” that “no evidence was ever forthcoming (at the TRC) implicating De Klerk in violence.” This was despite the fact that Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) clearly had an agenda to incriminate De Klerk. He writes of the TRC’s “frustration” at its failure to “pin responsibility for violations of human rights on De Klerk” and acknowledges “the embarrassing weakness of its finding against him.”’

Turning on the EFF, the Foundation said: ‘In a way, an attack by Julius Malema and the EFF, is the sincerest form of compliment. We have seen his kind before: those who wear colour-coded uniforms; who use bully boy tactics to disrupt democratic processes; who whip up race hatred and call their leaders “Führer, or Duce, or Commander in Chief”.’