About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1927. Native Administration Act No 38

Dugard (1978: 421) as well as Dyzenhaus (1991: 37) refer to this as the BANTU ADMINISTRATION ACT of 1927, but, as far as I know, the word "Bantu" was not made official until the 1950s.

This set up a separate legal system for the administration of African law (Simons & Simons 1969: 345), and "made the proclaimed Black areas subject to a separate political regime from the remainder of the country, ultimately subject only to rule by proclamation, not parliament" (Christopher 1994: 65). See the BANTU AUTHORITIES ACT of 1951.

"The central imperative behind the Act was to establish a strong enough system of national 'native administration' to contain the political pressures that were likely to result from the legislative measures necessary for the implementation of territorial segregation" (Rich 1996: 33). It was, together with the NATIVE AFFAIRS ACT of 1920, "part of a process of transferring power over the regulation of African life from Parliament to the executive" (Dyzenhaus 1991: 37). Despite "the Act's professed intention of enhancing the powers of tribal chiefs, it ... based the chiefs powers (outside Bechuanaland) on territorial rather than personal jurisdiction. To this end it was a measure that was primarily designed to accord with the grand design of territorial segregation rather than enhancing traditional authority per se" (Rich 1996: 35; italics in source).

Moreover, it included a clause which stated: "Any person who utters any words or does any other act or thing whatever with intent to promote any feeling of hostility between Natives and Europeans, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment not exceeding one year or to a fine of one hundred pounds or both" (Allen 1992: 318); thus it became popularly known as the "hostility law". See also the RIOTOUS ASSEMBLIES AMENDMENT ACT of 1930 and the GENERAL LAWS AMENDMENT ACT of 1974.

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.