1913 Natives Land Act Centenary

During June 2013, government marks the centenary of the promulgation of the 1913 Natives Land Act [PDF] that saw thousands of black families forcibly removed from their land by the apartheid government. The centenary provides the country with the opportunity to reflect on the negative effects that this legislation had, and continues to have on our people.

The Act became law on 19 June 1913 limiting African land ownership to 7 percent and later 13 percent through the 1936 Native Trust and Land Act of South Africa.

The Act restricted black people from buying or occupying land except as employees of a white master. It opened the door for white ownership of 87 percent of land, leaving black people to scramble for what was left.

Once the law was passed, the apartheid government began the mass relocation of black people to poor homelands and to poorly planned and serviced townships.

No longer able to provide for themselves and their families, people were forced to look for work far away from their homes. This marked the beginning of socio-economic challenges the country is facing today such as landlessness, poverty and inequality.

The Land Act was finally repealed when The Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act, 1991 (Act No. 108 of 1991) came into force on 30 June 1991.

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