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Former president FW de Klerk’s is still ’’doing fine’’, despite him battling cancer, the FW de Klerk Foundation maintains.
Earlier this month, there were extensive media reports that De Klerk’s health was “rapidly deteriorating” since the former president had been diagnosed with mesothelioma – a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs – in March this year.
The FW de Klerk Foundation, however, refuted these claims on June 8 and said, “This is not so”.
“There has been no discernable deterioration in his health since he was diagnosed in March with mesothelioma – a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs.
’’He is now considering the continuation of the course of immunotherapy that he has been following for the past two months,” the foundation said in a statement.
The foundation further said that the former president was still working despite battling cancer.
“Mr De Klerk attended a meeting of the FW de Klerk Foundation Board yesterday and comes into his office three or four times a week. He and his wife, Elita, hope to travel to Greece for a holiday as soon as Covid regulations permit,” the FW de Klerk Foundation said on June 8.
The foundation’s chief executive, advocate Jacques du Preez, told The Star there has been no discernible change to the former president’s health since the foundation's statement on June 8.
“The foundation will issue a further statement should there be any material change in Mr De Klerk's health,” Du Preez said.
De Klerk had announced on his 85th birthday this year that he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The foundation had said the former president would start a course of immunotherapy in March, however there was no immediate threat and the foundation was confident that treatment will be successful.
The news of De Klerk’s diagnosis came a couple of months after the former president’s son Willem, 53, died on October 6 last year in Durbanville after a courageous battle against cancer.
Should the former president pass away, he is likely to receive a Category 1 State Funeral, according to the Presidency’s State, Official And Provincial Official Funeral Policy Manual.
Category 1 State Funerals are provisioned for the president of the Republic of South Africa, the president-elect and former presidents.
De Klerk served as the last president of white minority rule in South Africa under the apartheid government and ruled over the final years of apartheid between 1989 and 1994.
The former president then went on to serve for about two more years as the deputy president to Nelson Mandela following South Africa’s first democratic election.
De Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Mandela “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic SA”.
De Klerk’s legacy is still, however, marred by controversy. In February last year, the EFF called for De Klerk’s Nobel Peace Prize to be stripped as well as any privileges he got as a former head of state after the foundation issued an apology regarding its statement on apartheid not being a crime against humanity.
This came after the EFF called his removal from Parliament ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address last year.