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Apartheid legislation

The system of racial segregation in South Africa known as apartheid was implemented and enforced by many acts and other laws. This legislation served to institutionalise racial discrimination and the dominance by white people over people of other races. While the bulk of this legislation was enacted after the election of the National Party government in 1948, it was preceded by discriminatory legislation enacted under earlier British and Afrikaner governments. Apartheid is distinguished from segregation in other countries by the systematic way in which it was formalised in law.

Publication of Legislation

Apartheid legislation was published in the Government Gazette of South Africa (known as the Afrikaans term "Staatskoerant" during Apartheid). This was the official medium used by the Apartheid government in South Africa to communicate with the public. This medium continues to be used today by the post apartheid governments although publication of the gazette have stopped and is no longer available in the courts as before. The gazette is available through paid subscription on an internet website.

Segregationist legislation before apartheid

Although apartheid as a comprehensive legislative project truly began after the National Party came into power in 1948, many of these statutes were preceded by the laws of the previous British and Afrikaner administrations in South Africa's provinces.[1][2] An early example is the Glen Grey Act, passed in 1894 in Cape Colony, and which had the effect of diminishing the land rights of Africans in scheduled areas.[3]

List of apartheid segregation

Population registration and segregation

  • The Population Registration Act, 1950, required that every South African be classified into one of a number of racial "population groups". This act provided the foundation upon which the whole edifice of apartheid would be constructed.
  • The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, 1953 allowed public premises, vehicles and services to be segregated by race, even if equal facilities were not made available to all races.

The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act was repealed by the Discriminatory Legislation regarding Public Amenities Repeal Act, 1990, and the Population Registration Act was repealed by the Population Registration Act Repeal Act, 1991, but the racial classifications remained on the population register until 1992.

Job reservation and economic apartheid

Segregation in education

Sexual apartheid

These laws were repealed by the Immorality and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Amendment Act, 1985.

Land tenure and geographic segregation

These and other discriminatory acts related to land tenure were repealed by the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act, 1991.

Pass laws and influx control

The pass laws were repealed by the Identification Act, 1986 and the influx control laws by the Abolition of Influx Control Act, 1986.

Political representation

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993 established universal non-racial adult suffrage.

Separate development and bantustans

  • The Native Administration Act, 1927 gave the executive government wide-ranging authority to govern the "native reserves", and the people living in them, by proclamation.
  • The Bantu Authorities Act, 1951 established a hierarchy of tribal, regional and territorial authorities, led by chiefs and appointed councillors, to govern the reserves.
  • The Promotion of Bantu Self-government Act, 1959 provided for the development of the territorial authorities into self-governing bantustans.
  • The Bantu Investment Corporation Act, 1959 established a corporation to develop the economies of the bantustans.
  • The Transkei Constitution Act, 1963 made the Transkei an autonomous self-governing territory, with a partially elected assembly.
  • The Bantu Homelands Development Corporations Act, 1965 established separate economic development corporations for the various homelands.
  • The Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act, 1970 made black people citizens of one of the bantustans, with the intention that when the bantustans became independent they would cease to be South African citizens.
  • The Bantu Homelands Constitution Act, 1971 allowed other homelands to become autonomous self-governing territories, similar to the Transkei.
  • The Status of the Transkei Act, 1976 declared the Transkei to be an independent state and no longer part of South Africa. This independence was not recognised by any country other than South Africa.
  • The Status of Bophuthatswana Act, 1977, the Status of Venda Act, 1979, and the Status of Ciskei Act, 1981, similarly declared Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei to be independent states.

The bantustans were abolished by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993, and the nominally independent states were integrated back into South Africa.

Banning, detention without trial and state security

See also


  1. ^ Scythe, N C: 'Early apartheid: race laws in South Africa 1652 - 1836', LLM thesis, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1995.
  2. ^ Smythe, N C: 'The origins of apartheid: race legislation in South Africa - 1836 - 1910'. LLM thesis, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1995.
  3. ^ Smythe, N C: 'The origins of apartheid: race legislation in South Africa - 1836 - 1910', p 262. ELM thesis, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1994.

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