Building the Legal Structure of Racial Discrimination

Building the Legal Structure of Racial Discrimination

Several pieces of legislation marked the establishment of the Union of South Africa as a state in which racial discrimination received official sanction. The Native Labour Regulation Act (No. 15) of 1911 made it a criminal offense for Africans, but not for whites, to break a labor contract. The Dutch Reformed Church Act of 1911 prohibited Africans from becoming full members of the church. The Mines and Works Act (No. 12) of 1911 legitimized the long-term mining practice by which whites monopolized skilled jobs by effectively restricting Africans to semi-skilled and unskilled labor in the mines. Most important, the Natives Land Act (No. 27) of 1913 separated South Africa into areas in which either blacks or whites could own freehold land: blacks, constituting two-thirds of the population, were restricted to 7.5 percent of the land; whites, making up one-fifth of the population, were given 92.5 percent. The act also stated that Africans could live outside their own lands only if employed as laborers by whites. In particular, it made illegal the common practice of having Africans work as sharecroppers on farms in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

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