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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

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1809. 'Hottentot Proclamation'

Elphick & Giliomee (1989) refer to this as the HOTTENTOT PROCLAMATION, Crais (1992: 194) refers to it as the CALEDON CODE, while Lapping (1986: 36f) refers to it as the HOTTENTOT CODE.

This was the first of a series of pass laws initiated by the British authorities, and it aimed at helping the Afrikaner farmers by way of controlling the mobility of the labour force. It "decreed that every Hottentot (or Khoikhoi) was to have a fixed 'place of abode' and that if he wished to move he had to obtain a pass from his master or from a local official" (Lapping 1986: 36).

Pass laws were nothing new, though. "From 1760 onward every slave 'going from the town to the country or from the country to town' had to carry a pass signed by his master which any passers-by might ask him to show. In 1797 the Swellendam Board of Landdrost and Heemraden ordained that all Hottentots moving about the country for any purpose should carry passes. The real novelty of Caledon' s law lay in its elaborate detail, especially its detailed provisions for the protection of the Hottentot labourer, and in the fact that special steps were taken to carry it out" (Marais 1938: 117).

The HOTTENTOT PROCLAMATION "made the registration of labour contracts compulsory if covering one month or more, and laid down conditions under which an employer could withhold wages for goods supplied by his servant" (Simons & Simons 1969: 16).

Coloureds "also became subject to the ordinary Colonial taxes (in so far as they did not live with the farmers under labour contracts) and to the public services exacted from Europeans" (Marais 1938: 118).

The HOTTENTOT PROCLAMATION was later repealed by ORDINANCE 50 of 1828, since the incoming British settlers, who were not allowed to buy slaves, could not find any free-moving wage-labour due to the pass laws.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.