For Some South Africans, de Klerk Missed Chances for True Reconciliation

One of the leading scholars in South Africa’s university system called the video a “last-minute revision of history” and an attempt to preserve Mr. de Klerk’s legacy as the hero who freed Nelson Mandela from prison.

De Klerk’s death was tragic because he left behind so many secrets, said Ms. Mbete.

Some of these secrets, according to analysts and family members of the victims, include any knowledge of the planning that resulted in the 1985 murder of the “Cradock Four,” four activists killed by state security forces as violence erupted during the final years of apartheid.

One of the activists’ sons, Lukhanyo Calata, said, “He takes all that knowledge with him, and it deprives us of the truth and closure” of their deaths. They pushed for Mr. de Klerk to reveal any information that could have led to an investigation, and they pleaded with the prosecutors to force him to do so, but to no avail.

When Michael Lapsley opened a letter bomb from the apartheid regime’s security forces in 1990, he lost both of his hands. “If he had said, ‘I apologise and this is what I am now going to do,’ with his assets, with my foundation, this is how I am going to speak up for the people who were the victims on my watch, I will account for my part’ — but there was nothing of that at all,” said Lapsley, an Anglican priest and anti-apartheid activist.

Anti-apartheid activist Mac Maharaj, who participated in the negotiations to dismantle the system, said, “No matter how much he acknowledged that apartheid was a mistake… he refused to come to terms with it as a gross human rights violation, as an atrocity,” Maharaj.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current leader of South Africa’s African National Congress, was more gracious in his praise of Mr. de Klerk’s “key role in ushering in democracy.”