South Africa Apartheid History 12 Ms Leslie

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South Africa Apartheid

  • History 12

  • Ms Leslie

*** Disclaimer***

  • *** Disclaimer***

  • Some of the language in this lecture could be thought of as racist. It is no longer acceptable to use the term ‘coloured’ to describe some ones ethnicity. The term will be used in this lecture as it was the official legal term used in the apartheid to describe some one of mixed-heritage and ethnic Asians. The term will be in quotations to illustrate that it refers to the laws placed on the people defined by the term. Students should also put the term in quotations in their notes, essays and tests to show that they know this is a historical term to describe the apartheid laws and not something acceptable by today’s standards.


  • Apartheid – the institutionalized racism practiced by the government of South Africa after 1948.

  • Boer is the Dutch word for farmer. Were Dutch Calvinist settlers who came to be known as Afrikaaners

  • Nationalists - Party of the Whites

  • African National Congress (ANC)- Party of the Blacks

  • Afrikaans - language spoken by the boers

  • The Union of South Africa was created in 1910 when the Boer, Dutch and British colonies merged.

  • Whites held power in the new Dominion, despite only being 15% of the population.

  • The white minority themselves was racially divided between British settlers and Boers.

  • Boers comprised of 2/3 of the Whites and would determine the development of South Africa.

  • Most whites did not approve of racial equality, by the Afrikaaner Nationalists, led by Dr. Malan were of the opinion that the whites were a master race intended by God to rule over inferior non-whites.

  • This view was upheld by the official state church, the Dutch Reformed Church.

  • When Malan contests the 1948 election, he promised to save whites from the ‘black menace’.

  • Malan won the election and began to put in place a system to formally segregate South African society.

  • The work was continued by Prime ministers Stijon (1954-58),

  • Verwoerd (1958-66)

  • and Vorster (1966-78)

  • Apartheid existed in 2 forms; ‘petty’ and grand’.

  • Petty apartheid is a series of small laws that affect everyday life.

  • Grand apartheid is the official policy to separate blacks in to ‘Bantustans’ or homelands.

  • Blacks were forced to live in separate areas - Bantustans– reserves in the rural areas and separate townships in urban locations.

  • Blacks were also forbidden to use white services. Separate schools, buses, trains, benches, cafes, shops, hospitals, beaches, sports and churches were mandated

  • Pass Laws demanded that everyone carry an identity card which specified their racial classification – white, ‘coloureds’ or black.

  • Non-whites were restricted to their own areas except when going to work.

  • The police enforced this rigorously. ‘coloureds’ were classified as mixed-race people and ethnic Asians (Indians, Malays, Filipinos, and Chinese)

  • Inter-racial marriage was forbidden – to preserve the ‘purity’ of the white race.

  • Again, the police strictly enforced the law.

  • Only in the mid 1980’s was this law repealed.

Bantu Self-Government Act

  • established seven African reserve areas, called Bantustans (homelands), which were to be granted independence.

  • Least desirable areas - 13% of South Africa

  • Homelands were slums

  • Used to strip citizenship rights from blacks

In 1976, the first homeland was given independence, Transkei, followed by Bophuthatswana and Venda in 1980.

  • In 1976, the first homeland was given independence, Transkei, followed by Bophuthatswana and Venda in 1980.

  • The rest of the world did not recognize these ‘states.’

  • Their independence was meaningless given their 100% dependence on South Africa economically

Opposition of Apartheid

  • The shocking fact about Apartheid was that is happened in a democratic country. It was also fully entrenched into the laws of the country.

  • Most whites accepted the government’s condemnation of all opponents as ‘Communist subversives’ who would be punished under the Suppression of Communism Act.

UN’s Position

  • 1952 condemned the Apartheid system

  • 1980’s declared the system a crime against Humanity

African National Congress

  • Lead by Chief Albert Luthuli

  • organize illegal strikes followed by Civil disobedience like having blacks enter non-white shops and public facilities.

  • The government responded with arrests and beatings.

  • 1957 bus boycott

  • thousands of blacks walked the ten miles to and from work from their townships for three months until a fare increase was dropped.

Sharpeville - 1960

  • Black homeland near Johannesburg

  • A Pass Law protest was broken up by police firing on the crowd. Killing 67

  • 15,000 arrests were made.

  • The African National Congress (ANC) was banned

  • Police able to arrest with out warrent

  • Luthuli was awarded for his peaceful protests with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961.

  • Few believe the official account of this death, that he deliberately stepped in front of a moving train, given the number of ‘accidents’ that happened to black South African leaders since that time.

International Opposition

  • In 1960, on a state visit to South Africa, British Prime Minister MacMillan spoke out against Apartheid, saying ‘the wind of change is blowing across the continent.’

  • In 1961, at the Commonwealth Conference, South Africa faced intense criticism.

  • Verwoerd (South African Prime minister) pulled out of the Commonwealth rather that face probable expulsion.

UN Opposition

  • repeatedly called for South Africa to give up the mandate of Namibia, but South Africa ignored the demands white extending its policy of Apartheid to it as well.

  • In the General Assembly a vote called for sanctions against South Africa in 1962, but many countries were reluctant to follow through as they felt business was more important

  • Britain, the USA and France were vocal in condemning South African actions, but felt that South Africa was too strategically important to allow it to fall into instability.

  • South Africa was also a key customer in the international arms market.

  • Nelson Mandela, an ANC member, was jailed in 1962 for civil disobedience.

  • He would remain in jail until 1990, becoming a symbol for the oppression.

Soweto - 1976

  • Transvaal (a province) educational authorities decided to make Afrikaans the official language of instruction, rather than English angered blacks, who regarded Afrikaans as the language of oppression.

  • School children demonstrated and at Soweto township, near Johannesburg, 200 blacks, mostly children were killed when police fired on the crowd.

  • Another 375 were killed at other protests

  • You can tell they’re school children from their uniforms

  • Black activist Steve Biko, ‘accidentally’ died while in police custody in 1977.

  • How he accidentally beat himself to death remains a mystery.

  • He had participated in the Soweto protests

Soweto results

  • Youth became involved with the liberation process

  • ANC adopted ‘Total Strategy’ where they sabotaged SA cities

  • More civil disobedience, strikes, boycotts and violence

  • Matters grew worse because of the Portuguese pull-out from Mozambique and Angola, allowing guerilla groups the opportunity to launch cross border raids into Namibia and South Africa from these territories.

  • Zimbabwe’s independence left all of South African’s northern border areas at risk.

  • To combat this, South Africa supported anti-government forces in Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, causing civil war in all of them.

  • launched commando raids against black African groups as far away as Zambia.

  • South African Army units were known to be operating in Angola regularly.

Nationalist Prime Minister P.W. Botha stated ‘a revolution is South Africa is No longer just a remote possibility, either we adapt or we parish. White domination and legally enforced apartheid are a recipe for permanent conflict.’

  • Nationalist Prime Minister P.W. Botha stated ‘a revolution is South Africa is No longer just a remote possibility, either we adapt or we parish. White domination and legally enforced apartheid are a recipe for permanent conflict.’

  • followed his 1979 speech with legislation that removed some hated aspects of apartheid.

  • Non-whites now allowed to join unions, marry whom ever, take certain skilled jobs

  • Some felt this was too little a move

  • the pass laws and policy of establishing homelands continued.

  • Most Africans regarded Botha’s liberalization as a little more than window dressing.


  • The security forces clamped down increasingly – perfecting their techniques and gaining increasing state acceptance of their brutal and even illegal tactics.

Things get worse…

  • The 1984 constitution accorded limited political power to ‘coloured’ people but continued to completely exclude blacks from legal political activity.

  • Funerals for those who have met a violent death came to be the venue for massive political demonstrations, and frequently the security forces broke them up with massive use of force.

  • Media coverage of such events lead to such a public out cry against such events that in the late 1980’s that South African government finally decided to go beyond the limitations on freedom of speech granted by the banning laws to forbid any reporting of political dissent whatsoever.

  • Black protest from outlawed ANC speaker Oliver Tambo, Churchman Bishop Desmond Tutu or the leaders of the so-called front line states increased the international pressure on South Africa.

  • American and British firms now found that their stockholders demanded that they pull out of South Africa, reducing the economic stability.


  • Canadian PM Mulroney used USA president Reagan to put limited sanction son SA

  • Botha responded by restricting freedom of foreign press


Change at last!!!

  • new President, an Afrikaaner – F.W. de Klerk.

  • met with imprisoned ANC leader, Nelson Mandela in 1989.

  • How ever, the big breakthrough occurred in 1990 with the lifting of the 30 year ban on the ANC and then the release of Mandela.

  • The world was shocked by the actions of de Klerk.

  • He quickly moved to reduce apartheid, freeing ANC prisoners, desegregating beaches and opening up Free Settlement Areas, open to all races.

What brought change?

  • Sanctions were taking their toll on the economy.

  • By 1985 Foreign investments had dried up. Paying off the national debt was an increasing burden Particularly with the economy growing at only 0.8% in the mid 1980’s

  • brain drain as White South Africans left in increasing numbers.

  • Apartheid resulted in huge discrepancies in educational spending, with 6 times as much, per capita, going to White students as Black.

  • Blacks were not educated enough to replace white workers

  • policing the system was extremely costly and the price of apartheid was rising

  • The Dutch Reform Church started condemning Apartheid

Change not with out danger

  • risk of civil war.

  • The state security apparatus would never approve of the total dismantling of apartheid if it was to result in a black majority rule.

  • The ANC and other Black organizations feared that Whites have no intention of granting majority rule.

  • As the 80’s wore on, the South African economy floundered as it sought to get around international trade sanctions, enforce apartheid and pay for its military intervention in Angola

  • The final catalyst for change came, oddly enough, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  • Apartheid supported had long claimed that the ANC and other Black organizations were communist fronts and that South Africa and the West could not risk the loss of the country to the Soviet sphere.

  • In February, 1990, in a speech before the parliament in Cape town, de Klerk set in motion the end of apartheid.

  • He noted that sanctions had made ‘people realize that they were in a dead end street.’

  • He announced a radical reform programme.

  • Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the apartheid laws repealed, one after another – The Group Areas Act, the Population Registration Act, and the Lands Act.

  • the state of emergency was lifted.

  • More political prisoners were released from prisons and exiles returned from abroad.

  • in 1990, Nelson Mandela replaced an ailing Oliver Tambo as President of the ANC and he agreed to sit down with de Klerk to plan the future of their nation jointly.

  • A majority of whites assented to these negotiations in a 1992 referendum – but extremists from both the White and the Black communities tried unsuccessfully to derail the process.

  • In 1993 a new, interim, constitution was approved and in 1994 the historical first universal suffrage election was held.

  • Every adult, over the age of 18 could vote.

  • The homelands were also abolished and 9 new provinces established.

  • Human rights were guaranteed.

  • The new parliament drafted a new constitution.

  • Mandela and de Klerk were recognized for their efforts when they were awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

1994 election

  • ANC took 63% of the vote, winning majorities in 7 of 9 provinces and gaining 20 cabinet seats.

  • The National Party won 20% of the vote, took 7 cabinet positions and had a majority in Western cape Province.

  • The Zulu Ikatha Party took 10% of the vote, 3 cabinet seats, and had a majority in Kwazulu/Natal Province

  • Mandela became President in an atmosphere of euphoria.

  • 45 heads of state attended his swearing in, along with representatives of many other nations.

  • Hopes were high for a renewed South Africa, where whites, ‘coloureds’ and blacks could live and work side by side in harmony.

  • Black expectations of an immediate increase in their standard of living was impractical - even impossible to achieve.

  • The expected flood of foreign investment did not happen.

  • Whites were suspicious of the new, black administration and they feared for their property and businesses and understood that the prospects for their children were poor in the new world of affirmative action hiring

  • Though most trusted Mandela, they were wary of his successors.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

  • Led by Desmond Tutu

  • set up to be a venue where people could arrive at the truth of what had happened in the bad old days

  • former security chief Pik Botha and Mandela’s former wife Winnie, both have been accused of terrible crimes and both are completely unrepentant

  • Commission hears complaints and decided whether or not to pursue charges or grant amnesty to foster healing and prevention of repeating the past

  • The loss of skilled whites continues to hurt the struggling South African economy and though life improves for most blacks, the improvements are small and far less than was promised in the heady days of the early to mid 1990’s.


  • Few expected the transition to black rule to be as peaceful as it was.

  • Sanctions are more a dim memory and the country is rich in strategic resources.

  • Standards of living are the highest in Africa – for blacks too, though there is still a huge chasm separating blacks and whites economically.

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