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South African Forced Removals History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

In South Africa, apartheid was an important factor in the forced removal of many innocent South Africans, due to the color of their skin. Throughout the 1900s the struggle between segregation and equality was brought to attention, affecting almost every aspect of a black South African’s life. Equality was a struggle starting as far back as the 1600’s, when white settlers first came to Africa establishing white supremacy over the black majority, rendering them helpless. From the causes, to the effects upon the civilians, the forced removals majorly affected the present day South Africa.

There are many causes as to why the forced resettlement of blacks was conveyed by the government. The apartheid more or less originated back in 1652 when white settlers first arrived in South Africa. This history did impact the way the laws and policies were enforced later on 1948 on by the nationalist party. In 1910, the Union was formed. After this, the territorial segregation the white settlers had impressed was put in law with the 1913 Black Land Act. The Black Land Act limited the areas black Africans could occupy through ownership or rent, basically to the Bantustans reserves, which made up 7% of the total land area of South Africa. This act would become the basic land policy of South Africa up until the end of the resettlement. The Act also made the number of migrant laborers increase, since most of the industries and mines, which was and still is the main source of income for Africans, were occupied by black workers, but were located on ‘white’ land. In 1936, due to the large amount of blacks enforced into the reserves, the Development Trust and Black Land Act added land to the reserves. The total land area increased from 7% to 13% land area for blacks, and 87% owned by whites (Henard). During the 1930’s and 40’s, the amount of money blacks were paid in urban areas was considerably better than that of rural, and this began a migration of black Africans into urban areas. This countered the wants of the dominant agricultural capitalists, who needed a good, cheap work force during the agricultural boom of the 1950’s. Thus began the move towards forced removals, to keep blacks out of ‘white’ urban areas. This need for the removal was the implementation of the Bantustan (Homeland) Policy. The Bantustans consisted of a set of ten tribes, known as homelands. Bantustans were territories set aside for the black inhabitants of South Africa that were unofficially independent. The Bantustan Policy was directed towards rural, urban, and Bantustan resettlement. These resettlements were to direct blacks from designated ‘white’ urban land and areas, which led to a superfluous amount of farm laborers. In 1950, the Group Area Act was put into action. The Group Area Act mandated residential segregation throughout South Africa. Over 860,000 Africans were forcibly moved to divide and control racially-separate communities. Multiple multi-racial communities were destroyed by the government using things such as bulldozers, and other machinery. To further enforce the eviction of blacks to the Bantustan reserves, the white government created the Prevention of illegal Squatting Act in 1951. An illegal squatter by definition was someone living illegally on land without permission from the land owner. They also extended that to even with permission from the owner; they could still be convicted and ejected by the authority. Illegal squatters were removed to the Bantustans. As time progressed, black political organizations such as the African National Congress and Pan African Congress were banned from interference. Whites dominated in politics and economy, strategically dividing black majority into small townships with separate political structures. Having them divided kept them from coming together and forming their own ideologies and political ideas. This also prevented them from doing any type of resistance against the white dominated government. Overall there were many events leading up to the forced removals.

By the beginning of the 1980’s, almost 60% of the African population was based in the Bantustans (source 2). The ‘black spots’, or communities the blacks were forced into, were overcrowded and unsanitary. These communities more or less became the dumping grounds for unwanted blacks, namely the elderly, women and children. By forcing these Africans into overcrowded settlements, they prevented them from having political or economic advantage over the whites. As a result of the enforced removal of blacks from white urban and most rural areas, the black majority (87% of the total population) was refocused into the 13% of Bantustan land reserves, by white authoritative (MSU). Places such as Sophiatown in Johannesburg (1955-63), and District 6 in Cape Town (beginning in 1958) were evicted from their homes. If blacks were to rebel or resist movement, they were forcibly moved, as demonstrated in 1985 over a period of four days, in Crossroads, South Africa. Blacks were being removed to a new township that was government run called Khayelitsha. Their peaceful demonstration turned violent, causing 18 civilians to be killed, and 230 injured. Between the periods of 1960 to 1983, 3 million black Africans were moved. After the institution of the Bantustan Policy, places such as Dimbaza, Illinge, and Saba on the Eastern Cape became overcrowded and infertile. At first the Africans did nothing, but beginning in the 1980’s popular resistance to the removals was widespread amongst the migrated. The resistance was massively influenced by Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, who both stood for the end of apartheid and segregation. Gandhi represented peaceful movement and protest, while Nelson Mandela rooted strongly for changing the type of government and the people controlling it, allowing blacks into the political loop.

By the 1980’s, the crumble of forced removals began to take place. There was widespread resistance, along with massive amounts of unemployed blacks living largely in poverty. In 1990, the African National Congress was finally unbanned, along with Nelson Mandela freedom. Working together, they were able to hold the first multiracial democratic elections in 1994. Upon this success, the African Nation Congress dominated with 62% majority of the vote. Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa after 28 long years in prison by the parliament, therefore actively ending apartheid and bringing back equality to South Africa. The Bantustan reserves were later incorporated back into the country of South Africa as a whole. Even after it ended, a great amount of the blacks that were forced into small townships remained there, out of the result that they had no work or money to leave for or with. Bantustan reserves are ridden with poverty and crime, due to the forced removals.

South African forced removals had a large effect on the current state of South Africa. Starting as early as the first white settlers in Africa from Europe, blacks were faced with apartheid and white supremacy for many long years. Over three million Africans were forced from their homes, having to move to overcrowded, infertile, and unsanitary areas so that the white and blacks would stay separated. This separation was made legal through a series of laws, policies, and acts by the white dominated government. The struggle for equality and erosion of apartheid was a long and continuous process, but finally came to an end in the early 1990’s.


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