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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1828. Ordinance No 50

This repealed the HOTTENTOT PROCLAMATION of 1809. Basically, it "freed the Coloured from the pass system and the risk of being flogged for offences against the labour laws" (Simons & Simons 1969: 16). However, "[w]hile passes for Khoikhoi were abolished ... passes for other Africans remained on the books" (Crais 1992: 194); see ORDINANCE 49 of the same year. Thus, passes "were abolished for the Khoisan, their right to land ownership was at last made clear, and they were no longer to be 'subject to any compulsory service to which other of His Majesty's Subjects ... are not liable'. Furthermore, their children could not be apprenticed without parental consent. Contracts of hire for more than a month had to be in writing and in no case should exceed a year" (Elphick & Malherbe 1989: 47t). "ORDINANCE 50 was thus a wide-ranging measure, whose only defect in the eyes of [Dr John] Philip [of the London Missionary Society] was that it applied to 'Hottentot and other free persons of colour', instead of being colour-blind" (Keegan 1996: 104).

The British authorities hoped that this "would stimulate the Cape's feeble economy by increasing productivity of both the labouring classes (now given the incentive of the profit motive) and the former master class (now deprived of indolence-inducing coerced labour)" (Peires 1989: 501).

ORDINANCE 50 remained in force until it was superseded by the MASTERS & SERVANTS ORDINANCE of 1841.

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.