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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1950. Population Registration Act No 30

This "provided for the compilation of a register of the entire South African population" (Dyzenhaus 1991: 40). The South African population now became divided into three racial groups: 'White', 'Black' ('African', 'Native' and/or 'Bantu') and 'Coloured'; the last of which was further subcategorized into 'Cape Malay', 'Griqua', 'Indian', 'Chinese' and 'Cape Coloured' (Christopher 1994: 103ft). Classification was determined according to physical appearance and social acceptability (incl. linguistic skills). "Anyone who contested their classification could appeal in the first instance to a special board set up for that purpose and headed by a judge or magistrate, present or former, and then to the law courts" (Riley 1991: 20).

Dyzenhaus (1990: 40) sees the key to apartheid in this and two other acts, the ABOLITION OF PASSES AND COORDINATION OF DOCUMENTS ACT of 1952 and Section 10 of the NATIVES LAWS AMENDMENT ACT of 1952. This act was formally repealed in 1991.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.