The native land act was passed


Date: 19 June, 1913

The Natives Land Act (No. 27 of 1913), also known as the Black Land Act, was passed because of constant pressure by Whites to prevent the encroachment of Blacks on White areas. This law incorporated territorial segregation into legislation for the first time since Union in 1910.

The law created reserves for Blacks and prohibited the sale of White territory to Blacks and vice versa. An annexure designated the territory preliminary allocated to Blacks, with a provision that a commission was to investigate the matter further for a more realistic delimitation. In effect, over 80% went to White people, who made up less than 20% of the population. The Act stipulated that Black people could live outside the reserves only if they could prove that they were in White employment. Although  the law was applicable to the whole of South Africa, in practice it applied only to the Transvaal and Natal. In the Free State, such legislation was already in force since 1876, while a law forbidding Blacks to own property in the Cape would have been in conflict with the constitution of the Union of South Africa, as Cape property-ownership was one of the qualifications for Black franchise. Sharecropping on farms in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State was forbidden.

According to debates in Parliament, the Act was passed in order to limit friction between White and Black, but Blacks maintained that its aim was to meet demands from White farmers for more agricultural land and force Blacks to work as labourers.

This Act did not go unchallenged. While it was being discussed in Parliament , the South African Native National Congress (SANNC, later to become the ANC), which was formed in 1912, rallied against the proposed law. In 1914 the SANNC submitted a petition to members of the Imperial Parliament and the British Government asking for intervention to stop the Act, but failed to acheive this.

Read more on the petition

Reader's Digest : Illustrated History of South Africa: the real story states that the law was gazetted on 20 June 1913.


  1. Davenport, T.R.H. (1991). South Africa: A modern history, (4th ed), London: Macmillan.
  2. Muller, C.F.J. (ed)(1981). Five Hundred years: a history of South Africa; 3rd rev. ed., Pretoria: Academica, p. 393-96.
  3. Reader's Digest. (1988). Illustrated History of South Africa: the real story, New York: Reader's Digest Association, p. 291-2.