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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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

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1913. Natives Land Act No 27

This is referred to as the BANTU LAND ACT by Dugard (1978: 78), and UNION LAND ACT by Magubane (1996: 248).

It set aside 7.3% of the total South African land area as reserves where to accommodate the 'Native' population (Lapping 1986: 73+87). It also put certain restrictions as to the possibility for 'Natives' to buy and/or own land outside the reserves (Christopher 1994: 32f). It "not only helped white landlords to remove black sharecroppers, but held out prospects for the easier reqruitment of labour for the mines by proposing to enlarge the recruiting areas, the reserves" (Davenport 1987: 531).

"Simultaneously the Act prohibited Whites from acquiring, or occupying, land in the reserves. It was stated in parliament, at the time, that the purpose of the Act was to ensure the territorial segregation of the races. This stated purpose has generally been accepted, by politicians as well as social scientists, as a sufficient explanation for the Act which has come to be regarded as the cornerstone of territorial segregation. Recently, however, some writers have argued that the Act can be interpreted as an attempt to remedy the shortage of African labour on White farms, and to prevent Africans utilizing communal or private capital from repurchasing European owned land which had been acquired by conquest" (Wolpe 1972: 71).

The law was amended with the NATIVES TRUST & LAND ACT of 1936. See also the NATIVES RESERVE LOCATION ACT of 1902 and the NATAL NATIVE LOCATIONS ACT of 1904. It was repealed in 1991.

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.