Timeline of Apartheid


When the National Party, founded in 1914 by Afrikaner nationalists, defeated the Smuts Party in 1948, it immediately began passing laws to further suppress the freedoms of South Africa's blacks under their newly-named policy of Apartheid.


Apartheid effectively institutionalized racial discrimination in South Africa between the years 1948 and 1991, under the leadership of the National Party. The term itself means "separateness" in both Dutch and Afrikaans, the language spoken by Dutch descendants in South Africa, and refers to the forced segregation of non-whites from mainstream society. Like most formal systems of discrimination, the impulses that ultimately led to apartheid developed gradually, and its ramifications linger to this day.


Apartheid was comprised of a specific set of laws aimed at maintaining a life of privilege and economic advantage for the white South African population.



Dutch settlers land in South Africa and claim it as part of their empire



The British defeat the Dutch and the Zulus and claim South Africa as part of their Empire



The Native Land Act made it illegal for blacks to purchase or lease land from whites except in reserves.



The Native Urban Areas Act established a foundation for future institutionalized segregation in cities, restricting black occupancy to less than eight percent of South Africa's land.



The Representation of Natives Act  excluded blacks from political participation



The Youth League of the African National Congress is formed in response to dissatisfaction among the ANC's younger members with its leadership. The Youth League seeks to foster a collective spirit of nationalism among members of the liberation movement as it combats discriminatory policies: Nelson Mandela is a key member of this movement



A local survey shows that Port Elizabeth has the poorest concentration of black South Africans among six major urban centers.



The National Party comes into power and begins to implement the Apartheid policy.


The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act made marriages between white people and

people of other races illegal in South Africa.



The year in which Master Harold … and the boys’ is set. The Group Areas Act requires that black South Africans live in townships. These townships were usually

several miles from the cities themselves, and the government designed these areas to be connected to major business centers by only one of two avenues of transportation, which could be easily closed off. Thus, the Group Areas Act made political uprisings - already banned by law - particularly difficult to maintain. The Group Areas Act also made it illegal for Africans to be present in cities for more than 72 hours without official permission.


The Immorality Act, passed in 1950, banned sexual relations between whites and blacks. On the grounds of the Immorality Act, the police tracked down mixed couples suspected of being in relationships, ransacked their homes, and arrested couples caught in bed. Most couples found guilty were sent to jail, and blacks were often given harsher sentences than their white partners. In 1985, the Immorality Act and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act were both repealed.


The Population Registration Act prompted the creation of a national register in which a racial classification was formally assigned to every South African.



The Suppression of Communism Act outlawed communism and the Community Party in South Africa. Under this Act, Communism was defined so broadly that it applied to any radical call for change. Furthermore, in 1953, the Criminal Law Amendment Act made possible the prosecution of individuals advocating any of the "aims of communism."



The Bantu Education Act closes almost all mission schools that educated South Africa's black population.The Act deemed that education for black South Africans was not necessary. It was a held belief that black South Africans were expected to only be laborers and so therefore would not need to be educated.


The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act required that black South Africans have separate amenities such as public restrooms, parks and beaches. They were not required to be of the same quality.


The Natives Abolition of passes and Co-ordination of Documents Act a single 96-page "reference book" replaced the 11 existing passes offered by the government. This book contained the fingerprint of its holder, along with his employment history and other personal information. This book had to be carried at all times under threat of punishment by law, and the authorities had the right to invade any home inhabited by blacks it so chose in order to search for documentation. Those caught with an expired pass were forced to pay a fine. If they could not pay this fine, as was often the case, the person would be imprisoned, often for months at a time.



The ANC is made illegal



Nelson Mandela arrested was arrested and charged with 5 years in prison for illegally exiting the country. During his time in prison his connections with the terrorist arm of the ANC became clear and he was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.



F.W. de Clerk comes to power at the head of the National Party and begins to dismantle Apartheid



Nelson Mandela released from prison as negotiations between the ruling Nationalist Party and the guerilla ANC continue



Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Clerk awarded the Nobel Peace Prize



The first all-race elections are held in South Africa, the ANC win control of the country with 63% of the vote.