Segregationist Legislation Timeline 1950-1959

Segregationist Legislation Timeline 1856-1979

Segregationist Legislation Timeline 1950-1959

Immorality Amendment Act, Act No 21 of 1950

This Act was one of the most controversial pieces of Apartheid legislation. It prohibited adultery, attempted adultery or related ?immoral' acts such as sexual intercourse between White and Black people.

Amended in 1957 as Act 23.

Suppression of Communism Act, Act No 44 of 1950

The Act was passed as a result of the National Party government's fear of the influence that the Communist Party of South Africa might have on Afrikaner, and later African, working class. However the Act was not solely directed at the Communist Party. Other formations that opposed to the government's racist policies also felt the wrath of this Act. It made the Communist Party and propagation of communism unlawful. The term communism was extensively defined. It referred to any non-parliamentary political opposition to the government. The Act sanctioned the punishment of any group that did anything intended to bring about political, economic, industrial and social change through the promotion of disorder or disturbance, using unlawful acts or encouragement of feelings of hostility between the European and non-European races of the Union. The Act further vested the Minister of Justice with power to restrict or ban any person he viewed to be pursuing communist activities. A banned person was confined to a particular district and was precluded from occupying an office in any trade union or political organisation. He was also prohibited from attending political gatherings. The victims of this Act in the 1950s included Albert Luthuli, Moses Kotane, J.B. Marks, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Yusuf Dadoo, Walter Sisulu, Dora Tamana, Josie Mpama, Eli Weinberg, Betty du Toit, Dan Tloome, M. P. Naicker, Reg September and Joe Slovo. Other communists were also removed from their seats in parliament and Cape Provincial Council. These were Sam Kahn, Fred Carneson, Brian Bunting and Ray Alexander. This law was repealed by section 33 of the Internal Security and Intimidation Amendment Act, Act No 138 of 1991.

The Group Areas Act, Act No 41 of 1950

After its election victory the National Party regime institutionalised and consolidated existing discriminatory and segregatory policies and bills. In 1948 the National Party government extended and strengthened the Group Areas Acts. The primary aim of this Act was to make the residential separation compulsory. The Acts laid down legal provisions on the specific areas where different population groups could own property, reside and work. There was quite a range of reasons why this Act was introduced and strengthened. The primary reason was to curb the movements of the non-Whites, in particular Blacks from rural areas into the big cities and Whites-only areas. The influx into the big cities was stimulated by the booming economy. To counter the influx and consolidate the growing numbers, the government set up semi-urban townships for Black, Indian and Coloured population groups. With the establishment of these urban areas the government was attempting to keep riots and any other form of threat by non-Whites on the White population group, under control. The Act also cut across all traditional property rights and led to the evictions of thousands of Blacks, Coloureds and Indians. It became a source of resentment to the non-Whites. The Indian community were the most affected as they were forced out of the central city areas where they had previously operated their businesses. Commenced: 7 July 1950. It was repealed by section 44 of the Group Areas Act, Act No 77 of 1957.

The Population Registration Act, Act No 30 of 1950

The Population Registration Act provided that all South Africans be racially classified in one of three categories: White, Black or Coloured. According to this Act Indians fell under the Coloured category. The criteria used to determine the qualification into each of these categories was based on appearance, social acceptance and descent. The Act described a White person as one whose parents were both White. The other things that categorised a person as White were his habits, speech, education, deportment and demeanour. Blacks were defined as being members of an African race or tribe, and Coloureds as people who were neither White nor Black. The Department of Home Affairs was responsible for handling the classification process of the citizenry. As a result of this Act Blacks were forced to carry passbooks, the infamous ?dompas? which had their fingerprints, photo and information in order to accessnon-Black areas. Commenced: 7 July 1950. It was repealed by section 1 of the Population Registration Act, Repeal Act No 114 of 1991.

The Bantu Authorities Act, Act No 68 of 1951

In 1951, in their objective to keep Black people permanently from the urban areas, the government introduced The Bantu Authorities Act. The Bantu Authorities Act was one of the Acts that attempted to keep South African citizens apart on a racial and ethnic basis. The government introduced this Act by setting up Black ethnic governments known as ?Homelands?. The government used this Act to push Black people out of urban areas to stay in these homelands. These homelands were subsequently granted independent status by the central government. Homelands were under chiefs who were subordinate to their masters in Pretoria. The Inhabitants of these homelands would lose South African citizenship and all political rights including voting. They even had to have passports to enter South Africa. Commenced: 17 July 1951. It was repealed by section 69 of the Black Communities Development Act, Act No 4 of 1984 - more

Bantu/Native Building Workers Act, Act No 27 of 1951

The Act was two-fold. Firstly, government signaled its determination to protect White workers' interests. Secondly, the Act granted permission to Blacks to be trained as artisans in the building industry, something previously reserved for Whites. Coloureds were the third race group to benefit form this Act. The primary goal of the Act was to protect White and Coloured workers against the threat of competition from Black workers. Sections 15 and 19 precluded Whites from employing Africans in their homes to perform skilled jobs such as bricklaying and carpentry. Africans who performed skilled jobs outside those that had been allocated, were guilty of an offence unless special permission had been granted. It was repealed by section 11 of the Industrial Conciliation Amendment Act, Act No 95 of 1980.

Separate Representation of Voters Act, Act No 46 of 1951

This Act was passed in 1951 as a result of the government intention to strip Coloureds of their voting rights and remove them from the common voters roll. The Act provided for the creation of a separate voters' roll on which Coloureds would be able to elect White representatives. However, this Act was only passed after great difficulty. Firstly, the Supreme Court announced it illegal as Parliament had failed to secure the two-thirds majority required by the constitution to abolish the voting rights. Secondly when the Act was finally passed it suffered opposition from the Franchise Action Council. The Franchise Action Council organised a one-day strike in which Black and Coloured people came together to protest against its terms. The Act received further opposition from White organisations such as the Torch Commando, Springbok Legion and United Party, which received the majority of the Coloureds' votes. This Act became the target of the Defiance Campaign of 1952. Commenced: 18 June 1951. It was revalidated on 2 March 1956 after a court challenge. It was repealed by section 4 of the Separate Representation of Voters Amendment , Act Act No 50 of 1968.

Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act, Act No 52 of 1951

This was a very harsh law. It was used to forcefully remove squatting communities. It afforded landowners, local authorities and government officials many ways of evicting people or demolishing their houses to get them off the land. Commenced: 6 July 1951.

Natives Laws Amendment Act of 1952

This Act effected amendments to section 10 of the Group Areas Act. It narrowed the definition of the category of Blacks who had the right to permanent residence in towns. Section 10 limited this to those who'd been born in a town and had lived there continuously for not less than 15 years, or who had been employed there continuously for at least 15 years; or who had worked continuously for the same employer for at least 10 years. It made section 10 of the Group Areas Act automatically applicable to every municipality.

Natives (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act, Act No 67 of 1952

A further measure by government to curb labour mobility was facilitated by the implementation of the Natives (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act. The Act prescribed the introduction of the reference book bearing photographs, details of place of origin, employment record, tax payments, fingerprints and encounters with the police. Africans were expected to carry passes with them wherever they went. Failure to produce a pass on request by the police officer was an offence. Africans could not leave the rural area for an urban one without a permit granted by the local authorities. Upon arrival in the urban area a permit to seek employment had to be obtained within 72 hours. After realising the significant role played by the workers in industry, the government extended this system to women. For the first time in the history of South Africa, women had to carry passes. This provision resulted in a widespread strike by women in 1956. Commenced: 11 July 1952. It was repealed by section 23 of the Identification Act, Act No 72 of 1986.

Natives Labour (Settlement of Disputes) Act of 1953

This Act was a government attempt to control African labour. The Act prohibited strikes by Africans. The Act did not give legal recognition to African trade unions, but did not prohibit them from operating. The then minister of labour, B.J. Schoeman, announced in Parliament that African trade unions would be used as political weapon to create chaos. He added that in his opinion ?We [the Afrikaners] would probably be committing race suicide if we gave them that incentive.? Commenced: 1 May 1954 It was repealed by section 63 of the Labour Relations Amendment Act No 57 of 1981.

Public Safety Act of 1953

This Act was passed as a response to the ANC?s civil disobedience campaigns. The Act granted the British governor general authority to set aside all laws and declare a state of emergency. Under a state of emergency the Minister of Law and Order, the Commissioner of the South African Police (SAP), a magistrate or a commissioned officer could detain any person for reasons of public safety . It further provided for the detention without trial for any dissent. Commenced: 4 March 1953. It was repealed by the State of Emergency Act No 86 of 1995.

The Criminal Law Amendment Act, Act No 8 of 1953

This Act asserted that anyone accompanying a person found guilty of offences committed during protests or in support of any campaign for the cancellation or modification of any harsh law would also be presumed guilty and would have the responsibility to prove his or her innocence. Commenced: 4 March 1953. It was repealed by section 73 of the Internal Security Act No 74 of 1982.

Bantu Education Act, Act No 47 of 1953

This Act provided for the establishment of a separate educational system run by the Department of the Native Affairs under the minister Dr H. F. Verwoerd and was in fact penned by Dr Verwoerd. The primary aim of this educational system was to provide Blacks with skills to serve their own people in the homelands or to work in labouring jobs under Whites. Dr Verwoerd explained his policy as follows: ?There is no place for the Bantu in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour. Until now he has been subjected to a school system which drew him away from his own community and misled him by showing him green pastures of European society in which he was not allowed to graze ?. Commenced: 1 January 1954. This legislation was repealed by section 45 of the Education and Training Act, Act No 90 of 1979.

Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, Act No 49 of 1953

The Nationalist Party government developed the concept of unequal allocation of resources such as general infrastructure, education and jobs and formalised this into law. The Amenities Act provided that there should be separate amenities such as toilets, parks and beaches for different racial groups. Furthermore these facilities should not be of the same quality for different groups. Subsequently, apartheid signs indicating which people were permitted to enter/use the facility were displayed throughout the country. Commenced: 9 October 1953. This legislation was repealed by section 1 of Discriminatory Legislation Regarding Public Amenities Appeal Act, Act No 100 of 1990.

Natives Resettlement Act, Act No 19 of 1954

This Act granted powers to the government to remove Africans from any area within and next to the magisterial district of Johannesburg. In essence this Act aimed to effect the removal of Africans from Sophiatown to Soweto, southwest of Johannesburg.

Riotous Assemblies and Suppression of Communism Amendment Act, Act No 15 of 1954

The Minister of Justice was ?empowered to prohibit listed persons from being members of specific organisations or from attending gatherings of any description without giving them the opportunity of making representations in their defence or furnishing reasons'. The Minister was also ?authorized to prohibit any particular gathering or all gatherings, in any public place for specified periods'. Commenced: 15 April 1954. It was repealed by section 73 of the Internal Security Act, Act No 74 of 1982.

Criminal Procedure Act, Act No 56 of 1955

This legislation consolidated the laws relating to procedural matters and provision of evidence in criminal proceedings. The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Act No 31 of 1917 and its numerous amendments were thereby all repealed. Commenced: 1 July 1955. It was repealed by section 344(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act, Act No 51 of 1977.

Black Labour (Settlement of Disputes) Amendment Act, Act No 59 of 1955

This Act amended the 1953 Black Labour Relations Regulation Act. It provided for separate industrial conciliation machinery which applied to Black workers other than those employed in farming operations, in domestic service, governmental or educational services and those in the coal and gold mining industries. It was repealed by section 63 of the Labour Relations Amendment Act, Act No 57 of 1981.

Natives (Prohibition of Interdicts) Act, Act No 64 of 1956

This Act deprived Africans of the right to apply to court for protection by means of an interdict or any legal process against any draconian laws imposed upon them by the government. Orders attached to this Act refer, for example, to the prohibition of entering or leaving a place not allocated specifically for Africans.

The Industrial Conciliation Amendment Act of 1956

This Act was substituted for the 1924 and 1937 Industrial Conciliation Acts. The primary objective of the Act was to separate the trade union movements along racial lines, with the aim of weakening them. The Act ended recognition of trade unions with White, Coloured and Indian membership. It laid down that trade unions with mixed membership had to cater exclusively for one racial group or split up into exclusive racial sections, each under the guidance of a White-controlled executive. At this time Africans had not yet been granted permission to belong to a registered union. The Act also gave additional powers to the minister to announce strikes illegal in essential industries. Whites benefited from this Act because it gave legal force to White job reservation practices.

South Africa Act Amendment Act, Act No 9 of 1956

This Act effectively revalidated the 1951 Separate Representation of Voters Act, which had been challenged by the Franchise Action Council and declared invalid by the Supreme Court. Commenced: 2 March 1956. It was repealed by the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act, Act No 32 of 1961.

Riotous Assemblies Act, Act No 17 of 1956

In terms of this legislation, gatherings in open-air public places were prohibited if the Minister of Justice considered that they could endanger the public peace. Banishment was also included as a form of punishment. Commenced: 16 March 1956.

The Natives Taxation and Development Act, Act No 38 of 1958

The Act provided that as from 1st January 1959, every male African of the age eighteen years and over, domiciled or resident in the Union, had to pay a basic general tax of £1-5-0 (One pound fifteen shillings) a year instead of the £1 (one pound) paid previously. As from 1st January 1960, men earning over £180 per annum had to pay increased amounts and women, for the first time, became liable to pay general tax. A sliding scale, according to which the tax was payable increased depending on income. The income of a wife was regarded as her separate income and not that of her husband. The new system was in the view of the African National Congress inequitable and would create further hardship for the people. The system was adjudged inequitable in the following respects.

  1. According to the new rates African men with income of under £140 had to pay a greater percentage of their earnings in general taxation than men of any other racial group, whether married or single, anywhere in the Union. In other words as far as the lowest income groups were concerned, Africans were required to pay more than Whites with the same income.
  2. Africans became liable to pay tax at the age of 18, while members of other groups only paid personal tax when they attained the age of 21.
  3. The new scheme not only made Africans pay more (although they were the least able to pay) but took no account of taxes which were only paid by Africans. The Africans had to pay Local Tax of 10/- (ten shillings) per year, educational levies, dipping fees, grazing fees, dog tax, pass and compound fees.
  4. Africans were imprisoned for non-payment of tax. In the case of other races there was no criminal sanction for failure to pay taxes. In 1955, 177,890 Africans were arrested and brought before the courts for failure to pay tax.

Extension of University Education Act, Act No 45 of 1959

This Act made provision for the establishment of separate tertiary institutions for Blacks, Indians, Coloureds and Whites. Blacks were not allowed to attend White universities unless with special permission by the government. The separation of these institutions was not only along racial lines but also along ethnic lines. The University of Fort Hare was opened for Xhosa speaking students only, while the University of the North in Turfloop was set up for the Sotho and Tswana students. Coloureds had their University in Bellville, while Indians and Zulus had their universities in Ngoye (KZN) and Durban-Westville respectively. The provision of this Act was met with protest from most lecturers at Fort Hare. Prof Z.K. Matthews who was also a lecturer at Forh Hare relinquished his position in protest against the Act.

Bantu Investment Corporation Act, Act No 34 of 1959

The Act provides for the creation of financial, commercial, and industrial schemes in areas designated for Black people.

The Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959

This Act announced the existence of eight African ethnic groups based on their linguistic and cultural diversity. Each group had a Commissioner-General as an official representative of the South African government. The Commissioner-General was assigned to develop a homeland for each group. Provision was made for the transfer of powers of self-government whereby each ethnic group would govern itself independent of White intervention. Transkei was the first territory to benefit from the provision of this Act when the Transkei Self-Government Act and the Transkei Constitution Act were passed in 1963.