FW de Klerk, the former president of South Africa and the last white person to lead the country has died at the age of 85 following his struggle against mesothelioma cancer; a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs his foundation said in a statement.
FW de Klerk foundation had announced the diagnosis in June.
The Foundation in a statement on Thursday said that the former president died peacefully at his home in Cape Town.
He is survived by his wife Elita, his children Jan and Susan and his grandchildren, the statement said.
FW de Klerk, born in March 1936 in Johannesburg, into a line of Afrikaner politicians was head of state between September 1989 and May 1994 and was also a key figure in the nation’s transition to democracy.
In 1990 he announced he was releasing anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, leading to multi-party polls in 1994.
De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for leading the “miracle” transition from white rule in the country.
In 1997, he retired from politics saying: “I am resigning because I am convinced it is in the best interest of the party and the country.”
Many black South Africans have blamed him for failing to curb violence during his time in power.