Apartheid in South Africa Essay

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History 184: Research Examination

History 184
Professor Moore

April 18, 2011 The system of Apartheid was a politically engineered system instituted in 1948 within South Africa by the National Party that was aimed to ensure absolute white domination in all aspects of society. Under this new era of racial segregation, numerous legislative acts were passed to supplement the idea of Apartheid and thus favor the white population and disadvantageous to those of color. Therefore, the doctrine of apartheid essentially crushed the black South Africans’ civil liberties and passed legislation making any semblance of revolution or protesting a crime. Howard Zinn1 stated that Apartheid was essentially a supplementing factor of slavery and suppressed the African people’s identity. The Population Registration act enacted in the 1950’s was perhaps one of the most significant laws in that it provided a foundation for all future legislation. Under this act, the entire population of South Africa was to be racially divided into three distinct groups – white, colored, and mixed. One of the duties of the government officials was to classify some of the mixed population who might be considered white. This particular act was included with a provision stating that in addition to the white population receiving their naturally protected rights and privileges, “one who is generally accepted as white” may also be permitted in the category. The Group Areas Act of 1950 was passed in conjunction with the Population Registration and mandated that the distinct members of each group live with each other. There were several implications of this act on the people of South Africa as this act essentially redistributed land and removed hordes of people from their homes. Rights to property were reserved to those who lived in the neighborhood; therefore, the property rights of many populations were forcibly removed and given to another. This act was not only morally detrimental, but also posed as an additional financial burden on the people. This new economic hardship was mainly due to the fact that employment would now be somewhat limited as crowds of people were looking for work after losing their previous jobs. The Immortality Act would make it illegal for those of mixed descent to exist – therefore it was now against the law for people of different groups to marry and those who were already married were sent to jail. This piece of legislation was also passed in 1950 and further contributed to the racial segregation in South Africa. Perhaps one of the most humiliating act in this era was the Pass Law Act passed in 1952 which essentially required all South African Bantu peoples to always carry an identification booklet. This book would not only include information regarding one’s personal life such as the birthdate, address, and employment but would also include the employers’ view or recommendation on that specific worker. If that employer’s perspective was deemed unfavorable, the worker could be sent to jail. Furthermore, failure to carry the book, also known as Dompa, would result in jail. It is also significant to note that police officials withheld the power to send anyone to jail on any grounds. This leads the passing of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1953 which essentially allowed the government to declare a state of emergency at any point in time. Whenever there was any semblance of an uprising or protest, the South African National Party Regime would declare an emergency and would subject the protesters to excessive fines, imprisonment, and physical torture such as whipping and beating. Clearly, the system of Apartheid proved to be overwhelming detrimental to the people of South Africa. As Erik Gilbert2 states, Apartheid was expressed and proven through the laws of the government of South Africa and called for the legal separation in education, housing, employment, and everything else. In