Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s | South African History …

Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s


Masters and Servants Acts of1856

These Acts, which had been passed between 1856 and 1904 in the four territories, remained in force after Union. They made it a criminal offence to breach the contract of employment. Desertion, insolence, drunkenness, negligence and strikes were also criminal offences. Theoretically these laws applied to all races, but the courts held that the laws were applicable only to unskilled work, which was performed mostly by Black people (Dugard 1978: 85; Horrell 1978: 6). Repealed by section 51 of the Second General Law Amendment Act No 94 of 1974.

Mines and Works Act No 12 of1911

Permitted the granting of certificates of competency for a number of skilled mining occupations to Whites and Coloureds only.

Repealed by section 20 of the Mines and Works Amendment Act No 27 of 1956

Black Land Act No 27 of19 June 1913

Prohibited Blacks from owning or renting land outside designated reserves (approximately 7 per cent of land in the country). Commenced: 19 June 1913. Repealed by section 1 of the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act No 108 of 1991.


The Native Affairs Act of 1920

The Native Affairs Act was yet another spin-off of the South African Native Affairs Commission report of 1905. It paved the way for the creation of a countrywide system of tribally based, but government appointed, district councils modelled on the lines of the Glen Grey Act of 1894. The principal of separate, communally-based political representation for Africans was extended by the 1936 Representation of Natives Act.

The Durban Land Alienation Ordinance, No 14 of 1922

Timeline: Anti-Indian Legislation.

This ordinance enables the Durban City Council to exclude Indians from ownership or occupation of property in White areas.

The Natal Provincial Council passes three ordinances of 1922:

The Class Areas Bill of 1923

Minister of Interior, Sir Patrick Duncan, introduces Class Areas Bill, which proposes compulsory residential and trading segregation for Indians throughout South Africa.

The Natives (Urban Areas) Act No 21 of 1923

The Natives (Urban Areas) Act legislated on a broad front to regulate the presence of Africans in the urban areas. It gave local authorities the power to demarcate and establish African locations on the outskirts of White urban and industrial areas, and to determine access to, and the funding of, these areas. Local authorities were expected to provide housing for Africans, or to require employers to provide housing for those of their workers who did not live in the locations. Africans living in White areas could be forced to move to the locations. Local authorities were empowered to administer the registration of African service contracts, and to determine the extent of African beer brewing or trading in the locations.

Municipalities were also instructed to establish separate African revenue accounts based on the income from fines, fees and rents exacted from ‘natives’ in the locations; this money was to be used for the upkeep and improvement of the locations. The critical function entrusted to the local authorities was, however, the administration of tougher Pass laws: Africans deemed surplus to the labour needs of White households, commerce and industry, or those leading an ‘idle, dissolute or disorderly life’, could be deported to the Reserves. In implementing the Act, local authorities were careful to consider the needs of industry. In Johannesburg, for instance, where industrialists made no bones about wanting a large pool of permanent standby labour, it was only intermittently applied until the end of the 1940s. The Act was amended in later years.

Boroughs Ordinance No 189 of 1924

This Bill effectively disenfranchises Indians in Natal. They lose vote in boroughs.

The Industrial Conciliation Act No 11 of 1924

This act provides for job reservation. Excluded Blacks from membership of registered trade unions and prohibited registration of Black trade unions. Commenced: 8 April 1924. Repealed by section 86 of the Industrial Conciliation Act No 36 of 1937.

The Township Franchise Ordinance of 1924

The Township Franchise Ordinance is approved by the Provincial Council of Natal to deprive Indians of municipal franchise rights, vetoed by the Union Government.

The Rural Dealers Ordinance of 1924

This Ordinance attempts to cripple Indian trade. This Ordinance prevented Indian ownership of land in White areas.

The Transvaal Dealers (Control) Ordinance No 11 of 1925

This ordinance puts obstacles in the way of obtaining licences. Aim to restrict Indian trade.

The Minimum Wages Act of 1925

This Act leads to a form of job reservation and promotes White employment. Certain trades are earmarked for Whites.

The Class Areas Bill of 1925

This Bill is designed for mere segregation.

The Areas Reservation and Immigration and Registration (Further Provision) Bill 1925

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 Act (Colour Bar Act) No 25 of 1926.

Working Life Factories, Township and Popular Culture 1886 – 1940 by Luli Callinicos

Property Rights and Rent Seeking in South Africa by John M. Mbaku

The 1926 Mines and Works Act must be seen against the background of the wage and job colour bars in South Africa. The 1911 Act, mentioned earlier, reserved skilled work for Whites only. But in spite of this law, mine owners continued to desk ill jobs and give more and more work to Black miners to save labour costs. (The wages of Black mine workers remained the same no matter what work they were doing they earned about a tenth of the wages of a skilled White worker.) The 1922 strike was caused by the mine owners attempt to replace a number of White workers with lower-paid Black workers. This Act provides certificates of competency for skilled work, Indian workers are excluded. The legislation was a reflection of the belief of most Whites, especially in the labour market, that the welfare of Whites would suffer significantly if Blacks were not legislated out of the market.

The Liquor Bill of 1926

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 of 1926

This Act denies citizenship rights to Indians.

The Immigration and Indian Relief (Further Provision) Bill of 1927

Minister of Interior, Dr Malan, introduces Immigration and Indian Relief Further Provision) Bill, which follows closely on Round Table Conference between India and South Africa. It requires 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 are not allowed to join them. The Act also establishes a scheme of voluntary repatriation of South African Indians to India. The Indian government complies. Repatriates are to receive bonuses of 20 per adult and 10 per child, plus free passages. The 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.

The Asiatics in the Northern Districts of Natal Act of 1927

Transvaal laws are to be applied to Indians in Utrecht, Vryheid, and Paulpietersburg. Restrictions placed on land purchase, trade and residence rights.

The Liquor Act of 1927

Africans and Indians are denied employment by license holders and are not allowed to serve liquor and drive liquor vans. They are also denied access to licensed premises.

The Womens Franchise Bill of 1927

No Indian women are allowed to vote.

The Riotous Assembly Act of 1927

Any Indians are considered dangerous agitators subject to deportation.

The Immigration and Indian Relief (Further) Provision: Act no 37 of 1927

This Bill becomes law and the scheme of assisted emigration comes into operation. (Repatriation: 1927 1655 Indians repatriated; 1928 3477 repatriated; 1929 1314 repatriated).

The Nationality and Flag Act of 1927

Segregation and Apartheid Laws as Applied to Indians (1859-1994)

Nationality and Flag Act denies Indians right to become citizens by naturalization. Indians not recognised as South African Nationals.

The Old Age Pension Act of 1927

No pension provisions made for Indians.

The Liquor Act of 1927

Prohibition (Statutory) of Natives and Indians to be employed in the Liquor Trade.

The Black Administration Act No 38 of 1927

The Act stated that all moveable property belonging to a Black and allotted by him or accruing under Black law or custom to any woman with whom he lived in a customary union, or to any house, shall upon his death devolve and be administered under Black law and custom.

The Liquor Bill Section 104 of the Liquor Bill of 1928

Prohibiting Indians from entering licensed premises is withdrawn.


The Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure of 1930

The (Amendment) Bill is introduced by Minister of Interior as a result of recommendations of Select Committee. 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.

Timeline: Anti-Indian Legislation.

The Industrial Conciliation Act of 1930

Provided for the registration and regulation of trade unions and employers’ organisations, the settlement of disputes between employers and employees, and the regulation of conditions of employment. Repealed by s 56 of the Industrial Conciliation Act No 28 of 1956

The Wage Amendment Act of 1930

This is the continuation of 1925 Act.This Act provides a single national board (the Wage Board) to recommend minimum wages and conditions of unorganised or unregistered groups of workers in all industries. The Act aimed to raise the wages of semi-skilled workers to a civilised level. Ironically, the government recognised that there was a need to fix a minimum for Black workers in order to protect the White workers wages against undercutting.

The Women’s Enfranchisement Act of 1930

The Act gave only European women the right to elect and to be elected to the Houses of Parliament.

The Riotous Assemblies (Amendment) Act No 19 of 1930

This Act authorised the Governor-General to prohibit the publication or other dissemination of any documentary information calculated to engender feelings of hostility between the European inhabitants of the Union on the one hand and any other section of the inhabitants of the Union on the other hand (Dugard 1978: 177). Commenced: 21 May 1930. Repealed by section 20 of the Riotous Assemblies Act No 17 of 1956.

TheAsiatic Immigration Amendment Act of 1931

Indians have to prove the legitimacy of their domicile in the country.

The Native Service Contracts Act of 1932

The Act drew all Africans outside of the reserves into the agricultural economy, while extending existing controls over labour tenancy. This meant that a farmer could expel the entire tenant family if any one member defaulted on his or her labour obligation. The Act had additional elements allowing for farmers to whip tenants, as well as compel farm tenants to carry passes.

The Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure (Amendment) Act No 35 of 1932

The Transvaal Asiatic Land Tenure Act and its subsequent amendments in 1934, 1935 and 1937 establish statutory segregation of Indians in the Transvaal end the state of uncertainty about their status in the Province that has obtained since the passing of Law 3, 1885. It is passed in 1935.

The Slums Act: Demolition of Slums of 1934

This Act is aimed at improving conditions in locations, but actually expropriates Indian property.Under the pretext of Sanitation, the Act is enforced to demolish and expropriate with the ultimate aim of segregation.

Segregation and Apartheid Laws as Applied to Indians (1859-1994)

TheRural Dealers Licensing Ordinance Natal of 1935

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.

Representation of Blacks Act No 12 of 1936

Removed Black voters in the Cape from the common roll and placed them on a separate roll (Dugard 1978: 90). Blacks throughout the Union were then represented by four White senators. Commenced: 10 July 1936. Repealed by section 15 of the Representation between the Republic of South Africa and self-governing Territories Act No 46 of 1959.

The Representation of Natives Act No 16 of 1936

The Bills proposed by General Barry Hertzog in the 1920s finally got the two-thirds majority required to be passed into law 1936, when the Development Trust and Land Act (also referred to as the Native Trust and Land Act and Bantu Trust and Land Act) and the Representation of Natives Act were enacted. The Representation of Natives Act essentially stripped African people in the Cape of their voting rights and offered instead a limited form of parliamentary representation, through special White representatives. Under this Act, a Natives Representative Council (NRC), which was a purely advisory body, was also created. The NRC could make recommendations to Parliament or the Provincial Councils on any legislation regarded as being in the interest of natives.

The Development Trust and Land Act No 18 1936

Expanded the reserves to a total of 13, six per cent of the land in South Africa and authorised the Department of Bantu Administration and Development to eliminate Black spots (Black-owned land surrounded by White-owned land) (Horrell 1978: 203). The South African Development Trust (SADT) was established and could, in terms of the Act, acquire land in each of the provinces for Black settlement (RRS 1991/92: 381). Commenced: 31 August 1936. Repealed by Proc R 28 of 1992, 31 March 1992 (phasing out and abolishing the SADT in terms of the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act No 108 of 1991)

The Aliens Registration Act No 26 of 1936

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Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s | South African History …

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