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What were the laws of the Apartheid system in South Africa?


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Many laws were implemented into the South African constitution for the benefit of the Apartheid system. The main objective was to drive non whites into small areas of the country leaving majority of the fertlie country for people of European descent only.

Some of the laws are listed below. This information is from

The principal "apartheid laws" were as follows:

  • An amendment to the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 prohibited marriage between persons of different races.
  • An amendment to the Immorality Act of 1950 made sexual relations with a person of a different race a criminal offence.
  • The Population Registration Act of 1950 formalised racial classification and introduced an identity card for all persons over the age of eighteen, specifying their racial group.
  • The Suppression of Communism Act of 1950 banned the South African Communist Party and any other political party that the government chose to label as 'communist'. It made membership in the SACP punishable by up to ten years imprisonment.
  • The Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956 prohibited disorderly gatherings.
  • The Unlawful Organisations Act of 1960 outlawed certain organisation that were deemed threatening to the government.
  • The Sabotage Act was passed 1962, the General Law Amendment Act in 1966, the Terrorism Act in 1967 and the Internal Security Act in 1976.
  • The Group Areas Act, passed on 27 April 1950, partitioned the country into different areas, with different areas allocated to different racial groups. This law was the basis upon which political and social separation was constructed.
  • The Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 created separate government structures for blacks. It was the first piece of legislation established to support the government's plan of separate development in the Bantustans.
  • The Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act of 1951 allowed the government to demolish black shackland slums.
  • The Native Building Workers Act and Native Services Levy of 1951 forced white employers to pay for the construction of housing for black workers recognized as legal residents in 'white' cities.
  • The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953 prohibited people of different races from using the same public amenities, such as restaurants, public swimming pools, and restrooms.
  • The Bantu Education Act of 1953 crafted a separate system of education for African students under the Department of "Bantu" Education.
  • The Bantu Urban Areas Act of 1954 curtailed black migration to cities.
  • The Mines and Work Act of 1956 formalised racial discrimination in employment.
  • The Promotion of Black Self-Government Act of 1958 entrenched the NP's policy of separate development and created a system of nominally independent "homelands" for black people.
  • Instead of all Native delegate systems founded under the Natives Representative Act of 1936, schemes for "self-governing Bantu units" were proposed. These national units were to have substantial administrative powers which would be decentralised to each "Bantu" unit and which would ultimately have autonomy and the hope of self-government. These national units were identified as North-Sotho, South-Sotho, Tswana, Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa, Tsonga and Venda. In later years, the Xhosa national unit was broken further down into the Transkei and Ciskei. The Ndebele national unit was also added later after its "discovery" by the apartheid government. The government justified its plans on the basis that South Africa was made up of different "nations", asserting that "(the) government's policy is, therefore, not a policy of discrimination on the grounds of race or colour, but a policy of differentiation on the ground of nationhood, of different nations, granting to each self-determination within the borders of their homelands - hence this policy of separate development".
  • The Bantu Investment Corporation Act of 1959 set up a mechanism to transfer capital to the homelands in order to create employment there.
  • The Extension of University Education Act of 1959 created separate universities for blacks, coloureds and Indians. Under this act, existing universities were not permitted to enroll new black students. Fort Hare University in the Ciskei (now Eastern Cape) was to register only Xhosa-speaking students. Sotho, Tswana, Pedi and Venda speakers were placed at the newly-founded University College of the North at Turfloop, while the University College of Zululand was launched to serve Zulu scholars. Coloureds and Indians were to have their own establishments in the Cape and Natal respectively.
  • The Physical Planning and Utilisation of Resources Act of 1967 allowed the government to stop industrial development in 'white' cites and redirect such development to homeland border areas.
  • The Black Homeland Citizenship Act of 1970 marked a new phase in the Bantustan strategy. It changed the status of the black so that they were no longer citizens of South Africa, but became citizens of one of the ten autonomous territories. The aim was to ensure whites became the demographic majority within South Africa by having all ten Bantustans choose "independence". Not all the homelands chose to become self-governing. Those who did choose autonomy were the Transkei (1976), Bophuthatswana (1977), Venda (1979) and the Ciskei (1981).
  • The Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974 required the use of Afrikaans and English on an equal basis in high schools outside the homelands.