The Natives' Land
of 1913 was an Act by the South African legislature aimed at regulating the acquisition of land by "natives". The Act formed an important part of the system of Apartheid
and is of importance for both legal and historic reasons.
Overview of the Act
The Natives' Land Act of 1913 was the first major piece of segregation legislation passed by the Union Parliament, and remained a cornerstone of Apartheid until the 1990's when it was replaced by the current policy of land restitution.
Impact of Act
The Act created a system of land tenure that deprived the majority of South Africa's inhabitants of the right to own land which had major socio-economic repercussions. Had the Supreme Court not rendered the Acts application void for a few years it also would have disenfranchised all "natives" in the Cape Colony, which was effected in 1936.
A fair amount of political irony surrounds the Act:
- The minister at the time of its introduction, J.W Sauer, was a Cape Liberal who opposed disenfranchisement of blacks. He did however advocate for "separate residential areas for Whites and Natives" in the Parliamentary debate on the bill.
- John Tengo Jabavu, a prominent "educated African" welcomed the Act, whilst Merriman and Schriener opposed the Act on principle.
A fair analysis therefore concludes that the Act in retrospect was a severe self-inflicted wound on South Africa and that it was the start of a long road of modern oppression, however that was not at the outset of the Act its intention, further that the full repercussions of the Act were not fully understood until it was too late, and the tide of White Supremacy had reached its full height.
see L.M. Thompson, A History of South Africa
see C.F.J Muller (ed), 500 Years, History of South Africa
as well as references therein