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Synopsis

F.W. de Klerk was the last President of apartheid-era South Africa. In less than 4 years he went from being Mandela's jailor to his vice president. Together they changed history for the better and may have prevented a civil war, yet little is known about de Klerk. Through his probing lens, Rossier explores the fascinating political journey and legacy of this complicated figure. 

It could have been a bloodbath of historic proportions. But instead, one man made the end of apartheid possible: in February 1990, President F.W. de Klerk lifted the ban on the African National Congress and ordered the release of Nelson Mandela.  As the world celebrated, Mandela would go on to become South Africa's first democratically elected president -- with de Klerk as his Vice President.  But de Klerk's history is complicated.  Before becoming president, he headed several ministries during the policy of "Total Onslaught, Total Strategy" against ANC insurgents and activists. De Klerk had been a virulent defender of white Africans and their privileges, and his own term as president was marred by political violence -- often at the hands of his own security forces. What pushed this man to reverse his beliefs and jumpstart the process of making South Africa a more equal and just nation?

Featuring in-depth interviews with de Klerk himself, former president Thabo Mbeki, anti-apartheid activists Father Michael Lapsley and Mathews Phosa, Yasmin Sooka (of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission), Richard Goldstone (who headed the Goldstone Commission investigations into political violence) and many others, filmmaker Nicolas Rossier explores the fascinating political journey and legacy of this complex figure.

Participants

Thabo Mbeki   South African politician who served two terms as the second post-apartheid President from June 14, 1999 to September 24, 2008. He served with de Klerk as Deputy President under Nelson Mandela in 1994.

Mathews Phosa   South African attorney and politician and was also an anti- apartheid activist. He is a former premier of Mpumalanga as well as a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC). Since the 2007 Conference of the ANC Phosa was elected to the post of Treasurer General for the Organization.

William Gumede   Senior Associate and Oppenheimer fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford, and author of ‘Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC’.

Yasmin Sooka   Joined the Foundation for Human Rights in 2001 and currently serves as its Executive Director. In 1995 she was appointed as a Commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was responsible for the final report.

Allister Sparks   Veteran writer, journalist and political commentator. He founded the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism and became its Executive Director from 1992 to 1997 He was South African correspondent for The Washington Post, The Observer and Holland's leading newspaper, NRC Handelsblad, from 1981 to 1992.

Albie Sachs   Famous anti-apartheid activist was a judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He was appointed to the court by Nelson Mandela in 1994 and retired in October 2009.

Randall Robinson   African American lawyer, author and activist. He is the founder of TransAfrica, the leading anti-apartheid organization in the US. He is known as one of the main leaders of the anti-apartheid movement.

Piet Croucamp   Lecturer in political theory at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Johannesburg. He holds a D.Phil from University of the Free State. His main research interest is the quantification of social concepts and measurability of social cohesion.

Marcia Khoza   Daughter of Portia Shabangu, an ANC militant who was assassinated in 1987 by death squad leader Eugene de Kock. In 2012 Marcia went to meet de Kock to forgive him for the murder of her mother. She was the first relative of a victim to meet and forgive Eugene de Kock in prison.

Roelf Meyer   In 1986 he became Deputy Minister of Law and Order and in 1988 of Constitutional Development (until 1991) and then minister of defense and chief negotiator for the de Klerk government during Codessa.

Alayne Reesberg   Long time personal friend of de Klerk and was working in his government as a spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs. Today she is the CEO of Cape Town Design.

Max du Preez   South African author, columnist and documentary filmmaker and was the founding editor of Vrye Weekblad. He has followed TRC for SABC and reported on most of the important confessions.

Michael Lapsley   Former South African anti-apartheid activist. In 1990, three months after the release of Nelson Mandela, he was sent a letter bomb by the Civil Cooperation Bureau, a covert outfit of the apartheid security forces. He lost both hands and the sight in one eye in the blast, and was seriously burnt. 

Mof Terreblanche   One of de Klerk’s oldest friends and confidants. His brother Sampie Terreblanche left the National Party over opposition to apartheid policies and was a founding member of the Democratic Party.

Chester Crocker   Served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1981 to 1989 in the Reagan Administration. Crocker is credited as the architect of the U.S. policy of "constructive engagement" towards apartheid South Africa.

Richard Joseph Goldstone   Former judge from South Africa and a served on the Transvaal Supreme Court from 1980 to 1989. During the transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy in the early 1990s, he headed the influential Goldstone Commission investigations into political violence in South Africa between 1991 and 1994.

Dave Steward   Served as a diplomat from 1966 until 1985 and was the South African Ambassador to the UN in 1981 and 1982. In 1992, he was appointed Director General in the Office of President F.W. de Klerk. He helped set up the F.W. de Klerk Foundation and has served as the Executive Director.

Leon Wessels   South African lawyer, politician, and activist who served in the white minority National Party government during the apartheid years and was one of very few Afrikaner politicians to show public contrition for the acts of that government. Wessels served as a Minister of Local Government, National Housing and Manpower, as well as Deputy Law and Order Minister.

Jakkie Cilliers   Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies. Dr. Cilliers co-founded the Institute in 1990 and played an important role in the transformation of the South African armed forces and the institution of civilian control over the military period 1990 to 1996