Anti-Indian Legislation 1800s - 1959
- After protracted negotiations between the Natal Government and the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Natal Coolie Law, Law 14 of 1859 is passed.
- This law made it possible for the Colony to introduce immigration of Indians as indentured labourers. With the option to return to India at the end of the five year period in which case a free passage would be provided. The system also provided for the labourers to re-indenture for a further five year period which would make them eligible to settle permanently in the colony. The indentured Indian labourers were also entitled to a gift of crown land and full citizenship rights.
- Law 12/1872 - makes provision for the appointment of a Protector of Indian Immigrants
- The Free State Republic passes legislation allowing Indians to enter the Republic with the understanding that they have no permanent right of residence. The British High Commissioner intervened and asked for arbitration, but the judgment went against the traders
- The first discriminatory legislation directed at Indians, Law 3 of 1885, is passed in the South African Republic, or the Transvaal.
1. This law shall apply to the persons belonging to any of the native races of Asia, including so-called Coolies, Arabs, Malays, and Mohammedan subjects of the Turkish Empire.
2. With regard to the persons mentioned in Article one the following provisions shall apply:-
(a) They cannot obtain the burgher right of the South African Republic (Transvaal).
(b) They cannot be owners of fixed property in the Republic except only in such streets, wards and locations as the Government for purposes of sanitation shall assign to them to live in.
(c) They shall be inscribed in a Register, if they settled with the object of trading.
(d) The government shall have the right for purposes of sanitation, to assign to them certain streets, wards and locations to live in. This provision does not apply to those who live with employers.
- Legislation is passed compelling Free Indians forced to carry passes or court arrest. The South African Republic rejects a British Indian petition and places the Asiatic in the same category as the indigenous African population i.e. as labourers.
- The Orange Free State Act 29 is passed. This law "aims to provide against the influx of Asiatics and the removal of White criminals entering the state from elsewhere." There were nine licensed Indian, traders in the Free State.
- The Statute Law of the Orange Free State prohibits "an Arab, a Chinaman, a Coolie or any other Asiatic or Coloured person from carrying on business or farming in the Orange Free State." All Indian businesses are forced to close by 11 September and owners deported from the Orange Free State without compensation.
Act 25 of 1891 - The proviso that indentured Indian labourers were also entitled to a gift of crown land and full citizenship rights as per the Natal Coolie Law of 1859 is withdrawn in 1891 to discourage the settlement of Indians in the province.
a) They cannot obtain the burgher right of the South African Republic (Transvaal).
b) They cannot be owners of fixed property in the Republic except only in such streets, wards and locations as the Government for purposes of sanitation shall assign to them to live in.
c) They shall be inscribed in a Register, if they settle with the object of trading.
d) The Government shall have the right for purposes of sanitation, to assign to them certain streets, wards and locations to live in. This provision does not apply to those who live with their employers.
- The Franchise Act is introduced in Natal to disenfranchise Indians.
- Act 17 of 1895, of the colony of Natal imposes a £3 tax on ex-indentured Indians, who fail to re-indenture or return to India after completion of their labour contracts. The penalty is imprisonment or deportation. In 1900 it is extended to children (boys, 16 years and over, girls, 12 years and over) and becomes operational in 1901. It is repealed in 1913 after the Passive Resistance Campaign.
- The Franchise Act No 8 of 1896 disenfranchises Indians. Africans were disenfranchised in 1865. Only three Africans and 251 Indians ever acquired voting rights in Natal.
There were 9309 White voters in 1896.
- The lmmigration Restriction Act (Natal) and subsequent amendments in 1900, 1903, and 1906, imposes an educational, health, age and means test, against Indians other than indentured workers, seeking admission to the country, or entry to the Transvaal and Cape. This act virtually stops all further immigration of free Indians into the colony.
- The Dealers Licenses Act, No 18, Natal Licensing Officers are empowered to issue or refuse licenses.
- Law 3 of 1897 prohibits marriage of whites with persons of colour within the SA Republic (Transvaal).
- Law 15 of 1898 states that no person of colour may be a licensed holder, or in any way connected with the workings of the diggings in the South African Republic (Transvaal).
- The Regulations for Towns in the South African Republic (Transvaal) states that persons of colour were prohibited from walking on the side-walks (pavements) or stoeps serving as a side-walk on the streets of its towns.
- The Peace Preservation Ordinance and Ordinance No. 5 of 1903 permits to regulate the re-entry of Indians who had left the Transvaal for Natal, the Cape Colony and India when war broke out. It restricted Asiatics into segregated locations, refused trading licenses except in Asiatic bazaars and pre-war licenses of Asiatics become non-transferable.
- The Transvaal Corporations Ordinance No 58 authorizes local authorities to proclaim, move, de-proclaim and manage townships for non-whites. The residents cannot buy land and have to rent. They do have the right to compensation if moved and are allowed to erect buildings under strict regulations.
- The Immorality Ordinance, Law 46 of 1903 is passed in the Transvaal.
- The Immigration Restriction Act is passed in Natal. This Act restricts immigration of Indians to Natal.
- The Immigration Restriction Act of 1905 is passed. The Act provided the government to controls entry of Indians into Transvaal through a special permit system.
- The Immigration Act in the Cape Colony makes all future immigration of Indians to the Cape subject to literacy requirements.
- The Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance 29, Transvaal Ordinance 29 of the Transvaal subjects all Indians to compulsory registration and identification by means of finger prints. Registration Certificates (passes) to be carried at all times and produced on request to a police officer under penalty of fine or imprisonment.
- Colonial Secretary, General Smuts introduces The Asiatic Law Amendment Act, 2/1907 ("The Black Act") which is identical to Ordinance 29/1906. All male Asians were to be registered and finger printed; to carry certificate (pass) at all times and to be shown to police on demand. Act 2/1907 is operative from 1 July 1907.
- 1)The Vrededorp Stands Ordinance, Act 27/1907 is passed in the Transvaal. Freehold title of certain stands is transferred to the Johannesburg Municipal Council on condition that such title cannot be transferred to an Asiatic, native or coloured person.
2)The Workmen's Compensation Act, 36/1907 is passed in the Transvaal. Denies benefits to Asiatic and Coloured people. A workman is defined as a white person.
3)Arms and Ammunition Act, No 10 of 1907, Transvaal prohibits issue of licences to Indians without sanction of Minister.
4)Transvaal Immigration Restriction Act, No. 15, imposes education test on all future immigrants to the Transvaal and establishes the Immigration Department to check against illegal Asiatic entries.
5)Education Act, No 25 of 1907,Transvaal. Coloured children not allowed into European schools. Separate schools established. Education free and compulsory for white children, not for Coloured children. (Coloured means all people of colour, Africans, Indians and Coloureds)
6)Transvaal Asiatic Registration Act is gazetted. Royal assent is given in May.
- The Immorality Amendment Ordinance, 16/1908.Transvaal – coloured persons to live in townships only as domestic servants, not as independent merchants or free citizens.
- The Precious Base Metals Act (Gold Law) of 1908. Transvaal. Restricted occupation by coloured persons of land proclaimed as a public digging – coloured persons debarred from acquiring mining Sexual relations between whites and coloured persons are outlawed.
- The Townships Amendment Act,34/1908. title and privileges and from trading in such areas. Obstacles placed in the way of goldsmiths.
- The Asiatic Registration Amendment Act, No 36 of 1908, Transvaal.
- The Public Service and Pensions Act, No 19 of 1908. Transvaal.
- Transvaal Immigration Restriction Act 15/1907 - Further immigration of Indians into Transvaal barred. Not applicable to educated Indians.
- The Transvaal Companies Act - Under this Act a limited liability company does not constitute a racial entity. Hence Indians, despite other restrictions, are able to trade in areas other than those set aside for them.
- The South Africa Act, 1909 (Sections 26, 35, 44, 147 and 151) leaves anti-Indian and other discriminatory legislation against black groups intact
- The Public Servants Superannuating Act and Teachers Pensions Act.
- The Immigrants Regulation Act of the Union of South Africa consolidates existing Immigration laws of the pre-Union colonies and excludes immigration of all persons to the Union considered unsuitable on economic grounds or on account of standard or habits of life. The Act as amended in 1913 and 1937 excludes all Immigration of Asians to South Africa, except that of wives and minor children of those already domiciled in the country.
- June, Immigrants Regulation Act (No 22 of 1913) - Persons not literate in a European language and undesirables, i.e. on economic grounds or on account of standards or habits of life, could be excluded from country. Minister of Interior classifies all Asiatic persons undesirable. Indian immigration stopped.
- 26 June, Indian Relief Act passed after a protracted period of Passive Resistance led by Gandhi, following the report of the Solomon Commission. The Act abolished the £3 Poll Tax, recognized marriages contracted in terms of traditional Hindu and Muslim rites, and facilitated the entry of wives into Union, but Indians still not allowed to own property in the two former republics (Transvaal & Orange Free State). Indians are not allowed to live in Orange Free State. Indian children of parents living in South Africa are allowed to immigrate. Restrictions on trading not removed and Indians remain disenfranchised.
- Under Companies Act of 1909, Asiatics could purchase land from whites if they formed a company.
- The Companies Act of 1909 is reneged in Krugersdorp:
- i) Krugersdorp Municipal Council vs Dadoo Limited and Others transaction in which a company owned by Indians purchase land from white owner declared invalid.
- ii) Krugersdorp Municipal Council obtains interdict restraining a European firm, Messrs TW Beckett and Company from permitting residence of Indians on a Krugersdorp stand leased by the firm to an Indian tailor.
- The Asiatic (Land and Trading) Amendment Act (Transvaal), 37/1919 - Indians with rights to trade on property outside designated Asiatic Bazaars allowed to continue. New licences stopped. Indians could no longer acquire land through companies. However they were still able to acquire land through nominees. A Register was to be compiled of existing licences and businesses owned by Indians.
- The Act is promulgated on 3 August.
- 5 March, The Durban Land Alienation Ordinance, no 14 of 1922 (Natal) This ordinance enables the Durban City Council to exclude Indians from ownership or occupation of property in white areas.
- The Township Franchise Ordinance is approved by the Provincial Council of Natal to deprive Indians of municipal franchise rights, vetoed by the Union Government.
- March, The Natal Provincial Council passes three ordinances.
i) The Rural Dealers' Licensing Ordinance – limited the right of appeal.
ii) The Townships Franchise Ordinance – Indians lose municipal franchise.
iii) The Durban Land Alienation Ordinance – gives the Durban Town Council the right to restrict ownership and occupation of land of any race group.
- Minister of Interior, Sir Patrick Duncan, introduces Class Areas Bill, which proposes compulsory residential and trading segregation for Indians throughout South Africa.
- Boroughs Ordinance no 189 of 1924 - This Bill effectively disenfranchises Indians in Natal. They lose vote in boroughs.
- Industrial Conciliation Act - this Act provides for Job reservation.
- The Township Franchise Ordinance, Natal - deprived Indians of municipal franchise.
- The Rural Dealers Ordinance, Natal - This Ordinance attempts to restrict trading by Indians.
- The Durban Land Alienation Ordinance, Natal - This Ordinance prevented Indian ownership of land in white areas.
- Transvaal Dealers (Control) Ordinance 11/1925 - This ordinance puts obstacles in the way of obtaining licences with the aim to restrict Indian trade.
- Minimum Wages Act - This Act leads to a form of job reservation and promoted white employment. Certain trades are earmarked for whites only
- Class Areas Bill - This Bill is designed for mere segregation.
- 23 July, Dr. D. F. Malan, Minister of the Interior, introduces Areas Reservation and Immigration and Registration (Further Provision) Bill in Parliament. It defines Indians as aliens and recommends limitation of population through repatriation.
- The Mines and Works Amendments Act (Colour Bar Act) 25/1926.This Act provides certificates of competency for skilled work. Indian workers are excluded.
- The Liquor Bill, Sections 107 and 144 - Indians and Africans could not be employed by licence holders and were not allowed on licensed premises and liquor supply vehicles. 3000 Indians employed in the brewery trade are affected.
- The Local Government (Provincial Powers) Act denies citizenship rights to Indians.
- 27 April, Minister of Interior, Dr Malan, introduces Immigration and Indian Relief Further Provision) Bill, closely after the Round Table Conference between India and South Africa. It required children of South African Indian parents, born outside the Union, to enter the country within three months of birth.
- In addition South Africans who absent themselves for three continuous years from the country forfeit domicile rights, and Indians who have entered the country illegally (mostly at the time of the Anglo-Boer War) condoned and issued with condonation certificates. Families of condonees were not allowed to join them. The Act also established a scheme of voluntary repatriation of South African Indians to India. Indian Government complies. Repatriates to receive bonuses of £20 per adult and £10 per child, plus free passages. Bonus doubled in 1931, and finally abolished in 1955 when it becomes apparent that only the old, intending to retire in India, take advantage of it.
- 23 June, The Asiatic in the Northern Districts Act. Transvaal laws were to be applied to Indians in Utrecht, Vryheid, and Paulpietersburg. Restrictions were placed on land purchase, trade and residence rights.
i)The Liquor Act - Africans and Indians were denied employment by licence holders and were not allowed to serve liquor and drive liquor vans. They are also denied access to licensed premises.
ii)The Women's Franchise Bill - No Indian women was allowed to vote.
iii)The Riotous Assembly Act - Any Indians are considered dangerous agitators subject to deportation.
- 5 July, The Immigration and Indian Relief (Further) Provision: Act 37/1927. This Bill becomes law and the scheme of assisted emigration comes into operation.
- Nationality and Flag Act denies Indians the right to become citizens by naturalization.
- 2 January, The Liquor Bill - Section 104 of the Liquor Bill, prohibiting Indians from entering licensed premises, is withdrawn.
- May, The Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure (Amendment) Bill is introduced by Minister of Interior as a result of recommendations of the Select Committee which proposes segregation: relocation of Indians to designated areas exempted from Gold Law within five years. No protection for those who had acquired interests on proclaimed (mining) land.
i)The Industrial Conciliation Act, 1930.
ii)Wage Amendment Act, 1930.
iii)Women's Enfranchisement Act, 1930
- The Asiatic Immigration Amendment Act - Indians have to prove the legitimacy of their domicile in the country.
- Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure (Amendment) Act 35/1932 - The Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure Act and its subsequent amendments in 1934, 1935 and 1937 establish statutory segregation of Indians in the Transvaal. It ends the state of uncertainty about their status in the Province that had obtained since the passing of Law 3, 1885. It is passed in 1935.
- The Slums Act is aimed at improving conditions in locations, but actually expropriates Indian property.
- The Rural Dealers Licensing Ordinance, Natal - This Ordinance causes the refusal of licenses to people whose properties have depreciated in value or whose licenses endangers the comfort and health of neighbours.
- 16 June, The Asiatic Land Tenure Amendment Act, 30/1936 is passed. The Minister of Interior is empowered to exempt further areas for Indian occupation with the possibility of freehold title. The Act accepts policy of segregation. Indians to be confined to separate areas.
i)Native Representation Act, Act 12 of 1936.
ii)Native Representation Act, Act 34 of 1936.
- The Marketing and Unbeneficial Land Occupation Act 26/1937 debars Indians from holding seats on regulatory boards. It also controls imports and exports to South Africa.
- i)The Native Administration Amendment Act 9/37.
ii)The Industrial Conciliation Act 36/1937 - introduces the colour bar in trade unions
iii)The Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure (Further Amendment) Act, 1937 - Indians are prohibited from employing whites.
iiii)The Immigration Amendment Act - children born outside of South Africa are deprived of rights enjoyed by South African Indians.
- 22 February, JJ Pienaar (United Party) and JH Grobler introduce 3 Bills:
The Mixed Marriages Bill aimed to prohibit marriage between Asiatic, Europeans and Africans. It is not passed, but a Mixed Marriages Commission is appointed.
The Provincial Legislative Powers Extension Bill aimed to refuse trading licenses to non-Europeans who employ white people.
The Transvaal Asiatic Land Bill - aimed to deny right of owning property to any white woman married to a non-European.
- 4 May, The Union Government introduces the Asiatic (Transvaal Land and Trading) Bill, which provided protection of Indians in exempted areas for two years; certificates for trading licences to be authorized by Minister of Interior; Asiatics not allowed to appoint nominees to buy land and obtain trading licences on their behalf.
- The Asiatic Land and Trading (Transvaal) Act passed. It extends the 1939 law for two years but makes some concessions based on the Feetham Commission report, providing some security for richer Indians. Some areas exempted from the provisions of the Gold Law in Johannesburg, Krugersdorp, Klerksdorp and Roodepoort. It allows land to be transferred to Asiatics in the Malay location of Johannesburg and the Nigel Bazaar.
- March, The Indian Reciprocity Act passed in New Delhi by Central Legislative Assembly. Imposes same restrictions on South African Europeans in India as imposed on South African Indians in South Africa.
- 7 April, The Draft Bill for the Trading and Occupation of Land (Transvaal and Natal) ("Pegging Act") is presented. This Bill places restrictions on trading and occupation of land by Asiatics in Transvaal and restrictions on acquisition and occupation of land in Natal.
- The following measures taken while Bill is debated in Parliament.
i) The Interim Act, Asiatic (Transvaal Land and Trading) Act 28/1939, amended in Act 28/1941 and extended to 1943, renewed for further period of three years to 31 March 1946.
- ii) In Durban the position is to be pegged. No Indian is permitted to occupy or acquire property occupied or owned by a European before 22 March 1943. Europeans prohibited from acquiring property owned by Indians. Provisions to continue until 31 March 1946.
- 22 April, The "Pegging Act" goes to Senate.
- May, The Asiatic Trading and Occupation of Land (Natal and Transvaal) Act (the Pegging Act) becomes law.
- 7 May, Natal Provincial Select Committee introduces a new Ordinance called the Residential Property Regulation Draft Ordinance,one of four ordinances designed to relegate Indians to certain specific areas.
The other three ordinances are:
The Natal Housing Board Ordinance.
The Provincial Local Authorities Expropriation Ordinance.
The Town Planning Ordinance.
All four ordinances are passed.
- The Asiatic Land Tenure and Representation Act 46(Ghetto Act)
- 21 January, General Smuts, Prime Minister, announces measures to replace the Pegging Act, which expires on 31 March.
- 15 March, Smuts introduces the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Bill (Ghetto Act)
- 25 March, General Smuts moves to the second reading of the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Bill in the House of Assembly.
- The Asiatic Land Tenure and Representation Act /46 (Ghetto Act) The Union Parliament passes Dr. Malan's Asiatic Laws Amendment Bill by a majority. The Bill deprives the Indian of communal representation.
- May, Government introduces the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Bill in the Union Parliament. The English churches condemn the Bill as unchristian and unnecessary.
- The Group Areas Act (No. 41 of 1950) and its numerous amendments divide the South African population into racial groups for the purpose of segregating them into distinct residential areas.
- The Separate Representation of Voters Act, No. 46, validated by the South African Act Amendment Act No. 9 removes the Coloured and Asian voters from the Common Roll and places them on a communal roll. They are now entitled to elect four representatives to the House of Assembly and two representatives to the Cape Provincial Council. The four representatives to the House of Assembly must be White.
- Africans in the Cape had been removed from the Common Roll in 1936, when Cape Africans had become entitled to elect three White representatives to the House of Assembly, and Africans in the rest of the Union to four White Senators through a system of electoral colleges, to the Senate.
- The Bantu (Abolition of passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act makes reference books with ID, population classification, stamp registering employment, residence and tax certificates a requirement. It is an Amendment to the 1945 Native (Urban Areas) Consolidating Act – Section 10 of the Act defines which African people can remain in urban areas for more than 72 hours.
The Native Services Levy Act - This Act imposes levies on employers to subsidise housing projects, transport and infrastructure for commuters.
- The Criminal Law Amendment Act allows harsh action against people who defy the law.
The Public Safety Act enables the Government to declare states of emergency.
The Separate Amenities Act allows for separate public facilities for different races.
The Bantu Education Act requires a separate education system for African people run by the Government's Native Affairs Department.
Immigration Regulation Amendment Act - This Act prohibited the entry, after February 1953, of Asiatic women, born outside the Union, who had married South African Asiatics overseas. It prohibited the minor children of such women from entering the Union without special permission.
- Extension of University Education Act, Act 45 of 1959, The Extension of University Education Act (No. 45) of 1959 prohibited African, Coloured and Indian students from attending white universities, except with the special permission of a cabinet minister.
The Peace Preservation Ordinance and Ordinance No. 5 of 1903 permits to regulate the re-entry of Indians who had left the Transvaal for Natal, the Cape Colony and India when war broke out. It restricted Asiatics into segregated locations, refused trading licenses except in Asiatic bazaars and pre-war licenses of Asiatics become non-transferable.