Marike de Klerk

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Marike de Klerk
First Lady of South Africa
In office
15 August 1989 – 10 May 1994
Preceded by Anna Elizabeth Botha
Succeeded by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Personal details
Born (1937-11-17)17 November 1937
Pretoria, Transvaal Province, Union of South Africa
Died 4 December 2001(2001-12-04) (aged 64)
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Nationality South African
Political party National Party
Spouse(s) Frederik Willem de Klerk (1959–1998)
Children Jan de Klerk, Willem de Klerk, Susan de Klerk
Alma mater Potchefstroom University
Religion Dutch Reformed Church

Marike de Klerk (17 November 1937 – 4 December 2001) was the First Lady of South Africa, as the wife of State President Frederik Willem de Klerk, from 1989 to 1994. She was also a politician of the former governing National Party in her own right.


Personal life[edit]

Marike was born into an upper-middle class Afrikaans family in Pretoria. Her father, Wilhelm Willemse, was an academic and writer. He was Professor of Social Pathology and Psychology at University of Pretoria.

Marike met her future husband, F. W. de Klerk, at Potchefstroom University (where she was studying for a degree in commerce). The couple later married and adopted[citation needed] three children together; Jan, Willem, and Susan.

F. W. de Klerk and Marike de Klerk were married for 39 years before divorcing in 1998. F. W. de Klerk remarried a week later.

In 2000 she faced further emotional upheaval when her relationship with her fiance and businessman Johan Koekemoer, collapsed. When the media revealed that he was facing impending bankruptcy, Marike de Klerk defended her fiance, but soon after he faced a nervous breakdown and checked into a Pretoria clinic.

In the later years of her life, she battled depression.


During her husband's presidency, Marike was the leader of the National Party's women's wing.

In 1993, she was awarded the Woman for Peace Award in Geneva, Switzerland for promoting the well being and development of rural women.

She later wrote and released two books. In A Journey Through Summer and Winter she explored her marriage of 39 years with FW de Klerk. Later in A Place Where the Sun Shines Again she offered guidance to women facing divorce later in life.

Her former husband successfully had a chapter from 'A Place Where the Sun Shines Again' dealing with his infidelity censored.[1]


On 4 December 2001, Marike de Klerk was murdered in her Cape Town apartment.

In May 2003, former security guard, Luyanda Mboniswa was convicted of her murder.[2]

Her murder led to many high-profile figures speaking out. South African president Thabo Mbeki remarked that she was a "strong, charming and dignified woman".. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela stated that "As a woman, I can identify with the exhaustion of her emotional resources in shaping her former husband's career,".

F. W. de Klerk released a statement: "I have learned with great shock and sorrow of the circumstances of the tragic death of my former wife Marike."


External links[edit]