Beyers Naude, Anti-Apartheid Cleric, Dies
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Beyers Naude, an Afrikaner cleric who spent half his life using the bible to justify apartheid before becoming one of the anti-apartheid movement’s most important moral voices, died early Tuesday, a family spokesman said. He was 89.
Naude had grown increasingly frail over the past six months and was taken to hospital last week with circulation problems blamed on his advanced age. He died around 4 a.m. at a retirement village in Johannesburg, said family spokesman and longtime friend Carl Niehaus.
South Africa’s former white rulers denounced Naude as a traitor and tried to prevent him from spreading his message of racial tolerance. His church marginalized him and many whites ostracized him.
But with the fall of apartheid a decade ago, Naude went from outcast to hero, and then President Nelson Mandela praised the ``Afrikaner prophet″ as a living spring of hope for racial reconciliation.
``His life is a shining beacon to all South Africans _ both black and white. It demonstrates what it means to rise above race, to be a true South African,″ Mandela said in a speech in 1995, marking Naude’s 80th birthday.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.
He is survived by his wife, Ilse, and four children.