Timeline of Land Dispossession and Segregation in South Africa 1948-1994

After the ascension to power of the National Party (NP) in 1948, legislation that further alienated people from their land and property was passed. The passing of the Group Ares Act in 1950 and the work of the Tomlinson Commission became some of the guiding pillars of Apartheid’s policy of racial and territorial segregation. Under the Group Areas Act, the government enforced massive forced removals of people from areas declared as belonging to another racial group. Homelands were established and given ‘self governance’ and pseudo independence by the Apartheid government. Black African people were deported from South Africa under the pretext of ‘influx control’ to these areas when their labour was no longer needed or they became a political threat. People residing in areas identified as ‘black spots’ in urban or rural areas were also forcibly removed to other areas often with nothing. Land dispossession also took place for other reasons such as the implementation of betterment policies and consolidation of homelands. As the process of dismantling Apartheid gathered pace, addressing land dispossession post apartheid took centre stage. Political parties and organisations presented various positions on how best they thought the issue of land restitution could be done.
26 May, The National Party (NP) led by D.F. Malan in alliance with Nicolaas Christiaan Havenga's Afrikaner Party (AP) wins by a majority of five seats and 40% of the overall electoral vote.
17 December, The African National Congress (ANC) adopts the ‘Programme of Action’ at its conference.
27 April, The Group Areas Act is passed and gives the government power to create racially segregated areas where members of a specific racial group could live and work.  The Act enables the authorities to forcibly remove people of a different racial group/s from an area that has been designated as belonging to another racial group.
The Commission for the Socio-Economic Development of Bantu Areas headed by Professor F. R. Tomlinson(better known as the Tomlinson Commission) is appointed by D.F Malan to develop a socio-economic plan to rehabilitate and develop black areas into ‘self-governing’ homelands.
20 November, A Technical Sub Committee is appointed by the Durban City Council (DCC) to draw up a detailed plan for the rezoning of Durban.
November-December, The Witzieshoek rebellion breaks out as a result of pressure applied by the government through successive legislations that increasingly put pressure on arable land in the reserve. Those who were considered as leading figures of the rebellion area banished to remote areas in other parts of the country by the government.
23 January, The DCC tables objections to the Technical Sub Committee’s plans for race based zoning proposals from 15 organisations and individuals representing White interests.
The entire Bo Kaap area is declared a Malay area under the Group Areas Act.
13 August, Villagers at Machavie are informed that they will be forcibly removed from their area as it was needed by the Department of Defence.
The Tomlinson Commission report recommends separate development as a strategy to avoid racial tension in South Africa and urges an acceleration of land purchases to add to the homeland areas and address overcrowding.  
12 February, Sophiatown is declared a White area under the Group Areas Act, and over 60 000 people are forcibly removed from the area and a suburb named ‘Triomf’ for whites is established in its place in 1957.
The Land Tenure Advisory Board (LTAB) established in 1946 is replaced by the Group Areas Development Board (GADB) which is given wide ranging powers to expropriate land.
Pageview, part of an area set aside for residence of Asians in 1885, is declared a Whites only area.
Schotsche Kloof in Cape Town is declared a Malay area.
Sea Point in Cape Town is declared a Whites only area.
Indian people are forcibly removed from around Johannesburg and relocated to Lenasia.
About 1 900 people in Gqogqora in the Tsolo district of the Transkei are forcibly removed to make way for a forest to avert what the government viewed as ‘environmental degradation’.   
About 1000 Coloured people in King Williamstown are moved to Schornville from their township.  
6 June, Following recommendations of the Group Areas Board, the first proclamations under the Group Areas Act for Durban area announced. The GAB estimates that about 25 000 properties would be affected by the proclamations. 
26 June, The Natal Indian Congress (NIC), the Natal Indian Organisation (NIO) and the Durban Combined Ratepayers’ Association convene a meeting at Curries Fountain grounds which is attended by over 20 000 people to protest against the GPA proclamations.
The Group Areas Development Bill is tabled and contains a clause that permits the state’s Development Board to appropriate property outside a declared group area. Local authorities launch protests which result in the withdrawal of the clause.
12 June, Lady Selbourne, whose residents had been living under the threat of forced removals since 1954, is declared a ‘black spot’.  African families are forcibly relocated to Ga Rankuwa, Attredgeville and Mamelodi while Indian people are moved to Ladium and Coloured people to Eersterust.  
1 August, The Department of Community Development is established and the Group Areas Development Board becomes an organ of the Department.
The Group Areas Board begins investigating the possibility of declaring District Six a Whites only area.
9 November, The Mashangana Territorial Authority (MTA) is established through Proclamation R 1 863. It was this authority that laid down the foundation for the creation of the Gazankulu homeland.
The Minister of Bantu Administration and Development states in parliament that there are around 350 ‘black spots’ in South Africa, and 250 of these are in Natal.
The Transkei is granted self-governing status by the Apartheid government under the Transkei Constitution Act.
Approximately 112 000 people from Duncan Village are moved to the outskirts of Mdantsane township which had become part of the Ciskei.
The Group Areas Board declares central Cape Town a White group area.

Forced removals in District Six. Photographer: Paul Alberts www.africamediaonline.com

District Six is declared a White area under the Group Areas Act and subsequently, over 60 000 people are forcibly removed to the Cape Flats, an area on the fringes of Cape Town.
Charlestown in Natal is declared a White area and residents’ houses are demolished. They are loaded on trucks and moved to an area known as Duck Ponds'.
The Apartheid government through Coloured Affairs Department (CAD) threatens to remove its support for schools in the Riemvasmaak claiming it was a ‘Bantu reserve’. 
1 September, Simonstown in the Cape is declared a White area under the Group Areas Act. Subsequently, Coloured and African people were forcibly removed to other areas.
August, Schornville is declared a White area and the government proposes to move Coloured people to Briedbach, an area without roads, sanitation or other facilities. However, residents protest and convene a meeting where they unanimously resolve not to move.
The government announces that 2 500 members of the Bakwena Ba-Magopa under Chief Simeon will be forcibly removed from their land and relocated to Ledig.
Thousands of African people in the township of Schmidtsdrift, near Kimberley are forcibly removed to a reserve near Kuruman on the Kalahari Desert.
The South African government allocates land south of the Klein Letaba to Venda.
People from White River are removed to Ngodini (Kaboweni), while others are sent to Pienaar, Tlautlau, Emanyeveni and Edwaleni where they erected their own shelters and establish informal settlements.
An estimated 3000 Maluleke villagers are expelled from the Pafuri area. The area was incorporated into the Kruger National Park.
May, The Minister of Bantu Administration Michiel CoenraadBotha reports to Parliament that 2 897 people of whom 2 041 children have been relocated to Dimbaza. 
April, The ANC at its National Consultative Conference at Morogoro declares in its ‘revolutionary programme’ that the land of ‘land barons, absentee landlords, big companies and State capitalist enterprises’ should be confiscated and redistributed to ‘small farmers, peasants and landless people of all races.
Mossel Bay, St Francis and Paradays Strand are declared White areas.
The Apartheid government orders the removal of the Riemvasmaakcommunity from their area near the Namibian border.
The Bantu Homelands Constitution Act is passed and it becomes the basis on which the South African government grants ‘self governing’ status to homelands.
An estimated 3 500 people are forcibly removed from the Makatini Flats area in Zululand to make way for the establishment of a buffer zone between Mozambique and Natal.
Ciskei is granted self-governing status.
1 February, Gazankulu homeland is established as a ‘self governing’ territory.
The Riemvasmaakcommunity is forcibly removed by the Apartheid government. Community members were separated. Xhosa speaking people were sent to the Ciskei, the Damara and Nama were sent to Khorogas in Namibia and Coloured people were sent to Upington.
The self governing Bantustan of Gazankulu is established under the Bantu Homeland Constitution Act.
September, Control over “Bantu affairs” in Greater Cape Town is transferred to the Peninsula Bantu Affairs Administration Board which became responsible for forced removals.
The South African Defence Force (SADF) takes over the land seized from the Riemvasmaakcommunity, and later the land was incorporated into the Augrabies Falls National Park.
Several African houses are demolished in Charlestown and people are forcibly removed to Lindela Township in Volksrust.
A community of Pedi speaking people is forcibly removed from the Doornkop area by the police and army. They are resettled in Lebowa and later KwaNdebele
African residents in Charlestown are forcibly removed to Osizweni about 25 kilometres east of Newcastle in Natal. 
The South African government grants the Transkei independence. Through the Status of the Transkei Act, the government ‘relinquished all authority’ over the territory.
African people in Roosboom, Good Hope and Welcome areas about 11km from Ladysmith, were all forcibly removed after their areas are declared as ‘black spots’.
12 September, The state President issues an order for the removal for the removal of 400 families from a number of small reserves near Humansdorp in the lower Tsitsikama forest to Elukhanyweni. Police are ordered to arrest all those who refused to move. This was after people fiercely resisted being moved.  
Xhosa speaking communities surrounding the Tsitsikama area are forcibly removed and resettled in Elukhanyweni in Keiskammahoek in the homeland of Ciskei. 
The Maremane and Gathlose communities in the northern Cape are forcibly removed to allow the SADF to undertake a construction programme.  
The squatter camps of Unibel and Modderdam on the outskirts of Cape Town are demolished without a court order.
6 December, Bophuthatswana is granted ‘self government’ by the South African governmentunder theBantu Homelands Constitution Act. 
The Action Committee to Stop Eviction (ACTSTOP) is formed in Johannesburg by Indian and Coloured communities to fight against the Group Area Act and stop people from being evicted in areas that had been declared White. Cassim Saloojee serves as its chairperson.
Crieman, an area about 15km north of Ladysmith is identified as a ‘black spot’. Subsequently, people are removed to Ezakheni. 
September, The Minister of Plural Relations announces that Bophuthatswana has agreed to cede 25 000 hectares of land in the northern Cape to South Africa. In return, South Africa would cede 25 hectares of land near Thaba Nchu which would be used to accommodate 60 000 Sotho people.
The Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA), a community based organization is formed to fight against evictions in Natal and KwaZulu.
The Land Titles Adjustment Act (No: 68) is passed.
Venda is granted self government by the South African government under theBantu Homelands Constitution Act.
23 April, The Eastern Cape Administration Board(ECAB) announces that it would start moving 180 families from Coega to Glenmore.
May, An estimated 38 000 people are moved from Kroomdai by the South African Development Trust to Onverwacht south of Thaba Nchu.
The Surplus Peoples Project (SPP) is formed in the Western Cape owing to evictions in Crossroads.
June, The South African government proposes to cede parts of the land within its territory to Swaziland. These areas which included Ingwavuma and KaNgwane (Mswati and Nkomazi) were home to predominantly Swazi speaking people who were cut off when the borders were defined in 1904.
30 November, In a watershed court judgment in favour of a Mrs Govendor, Justice Richard Goldstone rules that violation of the Group Area Act did not empower the government to automatically evict a person. The government was obliged to provide alternative accommodation to the accused person before eviction.  

Members of the Driefontein Community who resisted forced removals Photographer: Paul Weinberg

April, Saul Mkhize who led the community against forced removals in Driefontein is shot dead by a White policeman. He had written a letter to state President Botha protesting against the forced removals of the community.
The Transvaal Rural Action Committee (TRAC) is formed by Black Sash to resist forced removals.
An estimated 20 000 donkeys are killed by the Bophuthatswana government in what became known as the ‘Bophuthatswana Donkey Massacre’. The government justified its actions by arguing that cattle were more deserving of grass than donkeys It was also believed that donkeys were damaging pastures by urinating.
About 14 000 people in the Driefontein area which had been declared a ‘black spot’ by the government are forcibly removed to make way for the Heyshope Dam. The community loses access to grazing areas and agricultural land.
14 February, The Bakwena ba Magopa are forcibly removed from their land by the South African Defence Force (SADF). However, the community launches a court interdict that went up to the Appellate Division to challenge their removal.
The government passes the Cooperation and Development Act. This law enables the President to transfer particular trust land to homelands.
15 October, The Deputy Minister of Development and Land Affairs Ben Wilkens announces in a press statement that government plans to consolidate Bophuthatswana by adding about 20 000 hectares.
The Surplus Peoples Project reconstitutes itself as the National Committee Against Removals (NCAR). This committee serves as an overall structure linking regional Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) dealing with land related issues.
Duncan Village is granted a reprieve and allowed to remain as an area for Black residential settlement. 
Mgwali, a cluster of eight villages in the Cape Province is declared a ‘black spot’ by the Apartheid government and its community marked for forced removal to the Ciskei. The Mgwali Residents Association (MRA) successfully mobilizes opposition against their forced removal and wins a court reprieve.
August, Following sustained resistance and challenge of the government by the Driefontein community, the Deputy Minister of Development and Land Affairs agrees to meet the community representatives and promises that they would be compensated for their loss of land. 
30 August, The Minister of Constitutional Planning and Development J Chris Heunis announces that 25 more farms north of the Marico Corridor would be incorporated into Bophuthatswana.
July, A meeting is convened in Zeerust by Lekooane Sebogodi, the acting headman to mobilize support against the incorporation of Braklaate into Bophuthatswana.
September, The Borders of Particular States Extension Amendment Act (No 112) is passed in parliament but only came into effect in April 1987. The act amended the one passed in 1980 which defined the transfer of land to the four independent homelands. Included in the act was the transference of Braklaagte, Leeuwfontein and other adjacent farms into Bophuthatswana.
August, Borders of the Ciskei are redrawn to incorporate the Nkqonqkweni village at Peelton near King William’s Town. The village had been split into two when the borders were drawn in 1981 with one part of the village remaining in South Africa.
March, Bophuthatswana police descend on Braklaagte and assaults villagers, school children and arresting leading figures in the community.
April, African residents of Eluxolweni forcibly removed  from South Africa across the border to the Ciskei years ago are granted permanent residence status in South Africa. 
The Bakwena ba Magopa win a court challenge which declares their eviction unlawful thus giving them their right to occupy the land from which they were forcibly removed.
The Rural Women’s Movement (RWM) is founded. Its aim was to articulate views of women in the debate regarding land issues.
February, A workshop on land policy is held by the ANC in Lusaka Zambia.
October, The ANC Land Commission organises and holds a workshop in Broedestroom.
December, Members of the Barolong Action Committee request permission from the Town Council to visit graveyards of their ancestors in Machaviestad. Permission is granted, but once they visit the area they refuse to move leading to the arrest of 25 people and charges of trespassing being laid. 
The ANC rejects the White Paper on land drafted by the NP. It stated that “for the ANC restoration of land must underpin any credible land policy.”
1 February, President F W De Klerk announces the revoking of 1913 and 1936 Land Acts through the enactment of the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act and the Upgrading of Land Tenure Act.
March, The NP introduces its White Paper on Land Reform which was limited and aimed largely at preserving the status quo. The paper also argued that the restoration of land lost as result of racially discriminatory legislation was ‘not feasible’.
March, A total of 13 communities reject the NP’s White Paper on the land issue.
June, Following protests by NGOs and communities through the ‘Back to the Land Campaign’ the NP led government establishes an Advisory Commission on Land Allocation (ACLA) to receive and make submissions on the disposal of state owned land.
June, The ANC’s Land Commission holds a National Conference which produced guidelines for the development of a land policy. 
The Democratic Party (DP) releases its ideas on land reform.
July, The ANC’s National Conference adopts guidelines developed by the Land Commission at its own conference in June, which rejected constitutional protection of property rights.
October, At a Conference on Affirmative Action convened by the Constitutional Committee of the ANC, a sub group on land proposes a ‘wealth tax’ as a way of financing land redistribution.
October, The National African Farmers' Union (NAFU) is established as an organization for Black famers previously excluded from mainstream agriculture by the Apartheid government.
The South African Native Trust (SADT) established by the Native Trust and Land Act in 1936 is phased out after a Proclamation is issued. The trust was responsible for the consolidation of land between South African and the homelands.
31 March, The SADT officially comes to an end.
The Advisory Commission on Land Allocation (ACLA) is renamed the Commission on Land Allocation (COLA), and its powers are expanded to include jurisdiction over land in urban areas and to grant the power to make awards on land obtained by the state under Apartheid.
The Riemvasmaakcommunity applies to return to the land from which they were forcibly removed.
February, The NP ‘Charter of Fundamental Rights’  is published and acknowledges the seizure of property for public purposes subject to compensation. However, it overlooks the issue of restitution.
July, The Joint Administration of Certain Matters Act (No 99) is passed. This Act enabled the government to deal with fragmented administrations in South Africa and the Homelands. They were consolidated under a single administration. The Joint administration became one of the government's tools in dealing with fragmented rural land policies.
August, An Ad Hoc Committee is set up by negotiating parties to deal with the issue of property rights.
August, Representatives of about 75 ‘rural and landless’ communities demonstrate outside the venue for constitutional negotiations against the draft property clause in circulation.
The Land and Agriculture Policy Centre (LAPC) a Land and Policy centre connected to the ANC is established with donor funds.
The Advisory Commission on Land Allocation ACLA) is renamed the Commission on Land Allocation (COLA).
September, The World Bank publishes its “Options for Land Reform and Rural Structuring’ which drew its content from LAPC. The document pushed for state driven land distribution financed by grants targeting small farmers within a ‘willing buyer willing seller’ framework.
12-15 October, The Land Redistribution Options Conference is held. The World Bank’s proposals for co-payment and matching grants as a way of addressing the land redistribution and restitution are heavily criticized by academics, NGOs and the ANC.
>October, The South African Agricultural Union announces that it had received commitment from the World Bank that no land would be expropriated or nationalized  to set up small farmer projects.
The Provision of Certain Land for Settlement Act (No: 126) is passed. The act proposes a limited re redistribution and restitution process with the state retaining power to regulate non productive uses of land.
The Distribution and Transfer of Certain Land Act (No: 119) is passed. This act establishes procedures for the transfer of state owned land into private ownership.
A Land Charter is launched in a Community Land Conference. The charter demands that the state expropriate land and hand it over to communities regardless of how that land was lost.
February, The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) releases its land policy. The party proposed to abolish through legislation the existing system of private ownership of land and its transfer through private transactions.
The Land Title Adjustment Act (No: 111) is passed and repeals all legislations related to the adjustment of land titles including the Land Titles Adjustment Act passed in 1979 and Section 8 of the Black Administration Act.
February, A National Community Land Conference is organized by the NLC and attended by about 700 delegates from rural and landless communities.
February, The Women’s National Coalition (WNC) convenes a National Convention of Women which adopts the Women’s Charter. Amongst other issues included in the charter was the right of ‘all women, including women living under customary law to have access to land and security of tenure.’
27 April, South Africa holds its first democratic elections.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Land Affairs (DLA) is established.
December, Doorknop is handed back to the community that was dispossessed in 1974. 

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Last updated : 13-Jun-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 27-May-2013

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