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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1872. Proclamation

This was partly initiated in order to control the mobility of the labour force on the mines at Kimberley (Lapping 1986: 56). Initially, the Diamond Diggers' Protection Society draw up a set of rules for the non-White work force, which "stipulated that 'no license to dig should be granted to a Native', prohibited persons of colour from holding claims or diamonds in their own right, and prohibited the buying of diamonds from any servant unless he had his employer's written authority to sell" (Simons & Simons 1969: 37). The British authorities - apparently finding these too overtly racIal - refused to endorse these rules. However, the British nonetheless issued a proclamation based on drafts drawn up by the White diamond diggers, according to which "any black person was de facto excluded from owning diamond claims or trading in diamonds and was liable to imprisonment or corporal punishment if found 'in precincts of the camp without a pass signed by his master or by a magistrate' " (Thompson 1990: 118).

Passes for the Black population (or just the Xhosa?) had actually already been proclaimed in 1857 by the KAFFIR PASS ACT, which was amended or superseded by the VAGRANCY ACT of 1867. However, unless the amendment abolished passes for blacks or they were initially only aimed at the Xhosa, the PROCLAMATION of 1872 does not make sense; presumably, this proclamation extended the pass laws to all blacks, or possibly they were only needed in areas not covering the diamond fields.

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.