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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 12:16 GMT
Former SA first lady murdered
Mr and Mrs de Klerk
The de Klerks were married for 39 years
The ex-wife of former South African President FW de Klerk has been brutally murdered in her luxury Cape Town flat.

Marike de Klerk, 64, was stabbed and strangled, the police said after an autopsy on Wednesday.


I have learned with great shock and sorrow of the circumstances of the tragic death of my former wife Marike

FW de Klerk
Politicians from across the political spectrum have expressed their shock at her death.

The body of the former first lady was found on Tuesday after she failed to keep a hairdresser's appointment.

Nothing was missing from Mrs de Klerk's house and the motive for her killing was unknown, said police spokesman Wikus Holtzhauzen.

No arrests

Mrs de Klerk becomes the latest high-profile victim of the country's high crime rate.

Last year, 21,000 people were murdered in South Africa.

No one has been arrested in connection with the killing.

FW de Klerk
FW de Klerk divorced Marike to marry his mistress

Mrs de Klerk's body still had a knife-blade in her back, according to The Star newspaper, quoting police sources.

She may have been dead for 24 hours when the body was found, said an initial report from a pathologist.

Solidarity

She was married to South Africa's last white president for 39 years before they were divorced in 1998.

A week after the divorce, FW de Klerk married his long-time mistress, Elita Georgiades.


As a woman, I can identify with the exhaustion of her emotional resources in shaping her former husband's career

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

"I have learned with great shock and sorrow of the circumstances of the tragic death of my former wife Marike," Mr De Klerk said in a statement Wednesday, released by his spokesman Dave Steward.

President Thabo Mbeki described her as a "strong, charming and dignified woman".

Even committed anti-apartheid campaigner, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, expressed her sadness.

"As a woman, I can identify with the exhaustion of her emotional resources in shaping her former husband's career," she said.

Mrs de Klerk was at one point in charge of the then ruling National Party's women's wing.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rageh Omaar
"Police are saying they do not think she was murdered by someone known to her"
See also:

05 Dec 01 | Africa
Profile: Marike de Klerk
20 Jan 99 | Africa
De Klerk's memoirs stir passions
30 Oct 98 | Truth and Reconciliation
FW de Klerk: Overseer of transition
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