What is the significance of an Identity Document in post apartheid South Africa? – Opinions – Archival Platform

The introduction of identity documents can be traced back to the British statesman and governor of the Cape Colony in 1795, Earl Macartney, who suggested in the late 1800s, that deaths, as well as births be recorded.  One of the early population regulation legislation was the Ordinance 49 of 1828, which allowed African people to enter the Cape Colony to seek work provided they took out passes and carried them as they moved within the colony. In 1866, the law stipulated that any Black person found outside the allowed residential area without a pass from an employer, a magistrate, missionary, field cornet or principal chief could be arrested. With the growth of the diamond, as well as gold mining sector in late 1900s in South Africa, the laws regulating movement would prove convenient for controlling workers mobility and enforcing contracts. Black men streamed the mines to make a living.  Housed in compounds which were located away from their families, they had to carry passes. .A series of legislations that regulate the South African population would soon be enacted. In 1923, the Urban Areas Act was endorsed. This law prohibited black African men over 16 years of age, from entering urban areas (deemed as white areas). Pass raids became a feature of daily life. Building on this law, was perhaps one of the most well-known population regulation laws, the Population Registration (Act No. 30 of 1950). It required that people be identified and registered, from birth, as belonging to one of four distinct racial groups: White, Coloured, Bantu (Black African), and other. Indian was added as a racial group later. The Act was accompanied by humiliating tests which determined race through perceived linguistic and/or physical characteristics. Not only were people classified according to racial groups, but were also expected to live in these racial categories under the Group Areas Act, 1950.

What is the significance of an Identity Document in post apartheid South Africa? – Opinions – Archival Platform.