Group Areas Act

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Group Areas Act, 1950
Act to provide for the establishment of group areas, for the control of the acquisition of immovable property and the occupation of land and premises, and for matters incidental thereto.
Citation Act No. 41 of 1950
Enacted by Parliament of South Africa 
Date of Royal Assent 24 June 1950
Date commenced 30 March 1951 (Cape, Transvaal, Natal)
31 October 1952 (O.F.S.)
Date repealed 1 November 1957
Administered by Minister of the Interior
Repealing legislation
Group Areas Act, 1957
Status: Repealed
Group Areas Act, 1957
Act to consolidate the law relating to the establishment of group areas, the control of the acquisition of immovable property and the occupation of land and premises and matters incidental thereto.
Citation Act No. 77 of 1957
Enacted by Parliament of South Africa 
Date of Royal Assent 24 June 1957
Date commenced 1 November 1957
Date repealed 26 October 1966
Administered by Minister of the Interior
Repealing legislation
Group Areas Act, 1966
Status: Repealed
Group Areas Act, 1966
Act to consolidate the law relating to the establishment of group areas, the control of the acquisition of immovable property and the occupation of land and premises, and matters incidental thereto.
Citation Act No. 36 of 1966
Enacted by Parliament of South Africa 
Date assented to 5 October 1966
Date commenced 26 October 1966
Date repealed 30 June 1991
Administered by Minister of Planning
Repealing legislation
Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act, 1991
Status: Repealed

Group Areas Act was the title of three acts of the Parliament of South Africa enacted under the apartheid government of South Africa. The acts assigned racial groups to different residential and business sections in urban areas in a system of urban apartheid. An effect of the law was to exclude non-Whites from living in the most developed areas, which were restricted to Whites (e.g., Sea Point). It caused many non-Whites to have to commute large distances from their homes in order to be able to work. The law led to non-Whites being forcibly removed for living in the "wrong" areas. The non-white majority were given much smaller areas (e.g., Tongaat) to live in than the white minority who owned most of the country. Pass Laws required that non-Whites carry pass books, and later 'reference books'[1] (similar to passports) to enter the 'white' parts of the country.

The first Group Areas Act, the Group Areas Act, 1950 was promulgated on 7 July 1950, and it was implemented over a period of several years. It was amended by Parliament in 1952, 1955 (twice), 1956 and 1957. Later in 1957 it was repealed and re-enacted in consolidated form as the Group Areas Act, 1957, which was amended in 1961, 1962, and 1965. In 1966 this version was in turn repealed and re-enacted as the Group Areas Act, 1966, which was subsequently amended in 1969, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, and 1984. It was repealed (along with many other discriminatory laws) on 30 June 1991 by the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act, 1991.

Background[edit]

After the 1948 general election, D.F. Malan's administration commenced its policy of apartheid that sought to segregate the races in South Africa. The government hoped to achieve this through 'separate development' of the races and this entailed passing laws that would ensure a distinction on social, economic, political and, in the case of the Group Areas Act, geographical lines.[2] The Group Areas Act may be regarded as an extension of the Asiatic Land Tenure Act 1946.[3]

Provisions[edit]

The Act empowered the Governor-General to declare certain geographical areas to be for the exclusive occupation of specific racial groups. In particular the statute identified three such racial groups: whites, coloureds and natives. This authority was exercised on the advice of the Minister of the Interior and the Group Areas Board.[4]

Once an area had been designated for sole occupation by certain racial groups the proclamation would not become legally effective for at least one year.[4] Once this time had expired it became a criminal offence to remain in occupation of property in that area with the punishment potentially being a fine and two years' imprisonment.[5]

The Act also applied to businesses with racial designation being applied on the basis of the individuals who held a controlling interest in the company.[4]

Impact[edit]

The Act became an effective tool in the separate development of races in South Africa. It also granted the Minister of the Interior a mandate to forcibly remove non-whites from valuable pieces of land so that they could become white settlements.[4]

Sophiatown[edit]

One of the most famous uses of the Group Areas Act was the destruction of Sophiatown, a suburb of Johannesburg.[6] On 9 February 1955 2,000 policemen began removing residents to Meadowlands, Soweto and erected a new white-only area called Triomf (Victory).[7]

See also[edit]

Sources and external links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Women's Anti-Pass Law Campaigns in South Africa http://africanhistory.about.com/od/apartheid/a/WomensAntiPass.htm
  2. ^ http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/history-separate-development-south-africa The History of Separate Development in South Africa
  3. ^ Davenport, T.R.H. (1978). South Africa: A Modern History. CUP. p. 259-9. 
  4. ^ a b c d Loveland, Ian (1999). By Due Process of Law: Racial Discrimination & the Right to Vote in South Africa 1855-1960. Hart. p. 242-3. 
  5. ^ s. 34, Group Areas Act 1950
  6. ^ http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/urban-removals-destruction-sophiatown
  7. ^ http://www.southafrica.info/about/history/sophiatown140206.htm#.Vbzqm_lViko Sophiatown again, 50 years on