The 1913 Land Act: The Cornerstone of the Apartheid

What happened in South Africa from 1954 to 1991?

By Africa Media Online

Forced removals (1984)Original Source: Paul Weinberg / South Photos

Apartheid in South Africa: forced removals

The 1913 Land Act prohibited "black" people from buying or renting land in areas designated as "white". This legislation was one of the cornerstones of apartheid and paved the way for further legislation restricting the rights of black people and their ownership of land. In order to fulfil this legislation the government took measures to forcibly remove black people from areas set aside for white people.

Forced removals (1955)Original Source: Baileys African History Archive

1954: The Native Resettlement Act

The first sixty families in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, had been given orders to leave their houses, and offered accommodation in the new location in Meadowlands.

"You are hereby required in terms of the Native Resettlement Act 1954 to vacate the premises in which you are residing..." The first date given is February 12th.

1955: the move

The first sixty families in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, have been given orders to leave their houses, and have been offered accommodation in the new location in Meadowlands. "You are hereby required in terms of the Native Resettlement Act 1954 to vacate the premises in which you are residing..."

Forced removals (1959-10-25)Original Source: Baileys African History Archive

1959: Sophia Refugee crying in the street

"I used to play here with my mates when this was our house, when Mom and Dad and Me lived here. But then the Big Men and The Big Machines came and knocked down all the houses and my friends have gone away and I'm lonely and I don't know where we're going now. That's why I'm crying."

Forced Removals (1974)Original Source: Paul Alberts

Cape Town, 1974

Reality of District 6.

Forced removals (1974)Original Source: Paul Alberts

1974: Forced removals

Buildings in Cape Town's District Six being demolished.

Apartheid Land Removals (1983-01-08)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1983: Dumped!

Beestekraal was a 'dumping ground' for those forcibly removed under the apartheid system. They were given tents and toilets. Farmworkers evicted from their farms also were sent here.

Women, Housing, Apartheid Land Removals, Rural Townships (1984-06-26)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1984: Number 239

Home in Valspan, an area threatened by apartheid forced removals. The residents were not allowed to repair their homes, and only very basic services were provided. The Apartheid government then designated the area a 'slum'. The number on the door indicates that removal is immanent

Women, Gender lifestyle, Farmworkers, Apartheid Forced Removals (1984-10-05)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1984: Mrs Hlatswayo

Mrs Hlatswayo built a new home in Driefontein,
which was an area deemed a 'black spot' by the apartheid government. Farmworkers who were evicted from neighbouring white owned farms were given refuge in Driefontein.

Mr Timothy Hlatswayo had been injured when the tractor driving farmworkers home, overturned. The farmer refused to accept responsibility for the accident, and evicted him from the farm.

Rural Leader, Apartheid Land Removals, Housing, Rural Townships (1984-06-18)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1984: Mr Cwaile, Valspan activist, outside his home

Valspan was an area threatened by apartheid forced removals. The residents were not allowed to repair their homes and only very basic services were provided. The apartheid government then designated the area a 'slum'. The number on the door indicates that removal is immanent.

Women, Apartheid Land Removals (1984-09-03)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1984: A 'black spot'

Tinkie, a praise singer, with Jill, a member of Black Sash. Mathopiestad was a productive farming area deemed a 'black spot' by the apartheid Government and threatened by forced removal.

Mogopa Community/Forced Removals (1984-01-01)Original Source: Paul Weinberg / South Photos

1984: Packed and forced to leave

A man has been forced to leave his home in Moogopa.

Rural, Women, Gender lifestyle, Apartheid Land Removals (1985-06-02)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1985: Woman plastering walls with mud

Daggakraal was an area deemed a 'black spot' by the apartheid government and was threatened with forced removal. Maintaining the home was seen as resistance to removal.

Apartheid Land Removals, Homelands, Toilets (1986-07-02)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1986: Toilets and thorn bushes

People who were forcibly removed by the Apartheid Government, were sometimes given tents but toilets were always available. This sight of rows of toilets in desolate areas would give knowledge of immanent forced removals.

Apartheid Land Removals, Women, Resistance (1987-03-12)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1987: The resistance

Women clearing communal areas as part of the resistance against removal. The people of Oukasie (Brits) were threatened with removal to Lethlabile an area in Bophuthatswana.

Forced removals (1987)Original Source: Guy Tillim

1987: Betty Nakona

Betty Nakona dumped with her possessions in a resettlement area in Botshabelo.

Apartheid Land Removals, Rural, Meetings (1988-11-22)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1988: What's next?

Meeting under tree to discuss possible removal from their land at Ntombi's Camp in KwaZuluNatal.

Apartheid Land Removal, Mogopa, Court, Lawyers (1989-04-26)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

1989: Preparing for court

Lawyer Nicholas (Fink) Haysom with Lydia Kompe explaining to Mogopa people what may happen in court. The Bakwena ba Mogopa were removed from their farms on 14 February 1984 to Pachsdraai, an area in the Bophuthatswana 'homeland'. From there some of them preferred to live on their Paramount Chief's land and some were later moved to Onderstepoort.

Land removals (1989)Original Source: Paul Grendon / South Photos

1989: The resistance to the removals

Residents and representatives of various organisations take part in a march on municipal offices in Port Nolloth to demand that Tente Dorp not be moved.

Apartheid Land Removals, Music, Homelands (1986-07-02)Original Source: Gille de Vlieg / South Photos

The resilient spirit of Africa

Music was a solution to make the most of being forcibly removed.

Forced removals (1991)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

1991: Squatters

Police watch squatters whose homes have been demolished.

Credits: Story

Photographer — Gille de Vlieg / South Photographs
Photographer — Paul Weinberg / South Photographs
Photographer — Paul Grendon / South Photographs
Photographer — Graeme Williams / South Photographs
Photographer — Cedric Nunn
Photographic Archive — Baileys African History Archive
Photographer — Paul Alberts / South Photographs
Photographer — Guy Tillim / South Photographs

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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