British seize the Cape of Good Hope area, prompting many Dutch settlers (Boers)
to migrate north in search of their own republics.
Discovery of diamonds, followed by discovery of gold in 1886, speeds immigration
to the area, increases wealth and causes further subjugation of native inhabitants.
First Boer War between Boer settlers and the British; Boer settlers win and are
granted self-rule in the Transvaal region, under British oversight.
Second Boer War between Boer settlers and the British;
British defeat the Boers, ending the existence of the Transvaal and the Orange
Free State as Boer republics and annexing them to the British Empire. Boers are
given £3m in compensation and promised eventual self-government.
Former British colonies of the Cape and Natal, and Boer republics of Transvaal
and Orange Free State unite to form the Union of South Africa.
The South African government introduces the Native Land Act, preventing blacks
-- except those living in Cape Province -- from purchasing or leasing land outside
reserves. The act takes land belonging to African sharecroppers and cash tenants,
and restricts the terms under which Africans may live on white-owned farms.
The Native (Urban Areas) Act of 1923 segregates urban residential areas and implements
"influx controls" limiting Africans' access to cities. The act labels
Africans "temporary sojourners,” who may enter the city only as necessary
for "the wants of the white population."
Independent African National Congress forms.
The Development Trust and Land Act passes, outlawing squatting and increasing
the amount of land available to blacks to 13.6 percent. The act also allows the
Department of Bantu Administration and Development to eliminate "black spots"
(black-owned land surrounded by white-owned land).
The Natives Laws Amendment Act prevents Africans from purchasing land in urban
areas, except with the governor-general's consent.
The Group Areas Act extends the policy of separate urban residential areas, also
racially segregating business areas and limiting interracial property actions.
The Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act prohibits entering land or buildings without
lawful reason, or remaining there without the owner's permission. The government
is granted power to order squatters out of urban areas, and to create resettlement
camps for Africans evicted from white farms.
Bantu Authorities Act allows creation of tribal, regional and territorial authorities
within black reserves.
The Black (Native) Laws Amendment Act amended the 1945 Urban Areas Consolidation
Act to state that all blacks must carry passes and may not stay in an urban area
longer than 72 hours without permission.
The Blacks Resettlement Act gives government the right to remove Africans from
Johannesburg and surrounding areas.
Around 60,000 blacks are moved at gunpoint from Johannesburg's Western Areas.
These are redesignated white areas and renamed Triomf.
The African National Congress Freedom Charter is adopted, striving to create equality
for those "robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form
of government founded on injustice and inequality." Among other tenets, the
charter promises that:
-- restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the
land re-divided among those who work it to banish famine and land hunger;
-- the state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams
to save the soil and assist the tillers;
-- freedom of movement shall be
guaranteed to all who work on the land;
-- all shall have the right to occupy
land wherever they choose; and
people shall not be robbed of their cattle, and forced labor and farm prisons
shall be abolished.
The Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act designates
reserve areas as fully-fledged Bantustans, or black "homelands," and
abolishes black parliamentary representation.
Close to 4 million blacks forcibly moved to remote "homelands."
The Black Laws Amendment Act allows the Minister of Bantu Administration to override
local authorities in African affairs.
The Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act strips blacks of South African citizenship.
The leaders of seven "homelands" issue a joint statement delineating
the terms of a possible consensus for the South African constitution.
President P.W. Botha announces his intention to grant blacks more political and
The government admits its "homeland" policy is a failure and says "homelands"
will be reintegrated into South Africa.
The World Bank warns that South Africa faces possible civil war if "major
restructuring of the rural economy centered on significant land transfers and
smaller scale agricultural production units" does not take place.
Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk and other leaders endorse an interim constitution
containing a method by which Africans can regain ownership of land taken away
The African National Congress takes power, under Mandela, ending three centuries
of white rule. Through the Restitution of Land Rights Act, new leaders pledge
to transfer 30 percent of white-owned cultivable land to nonwhites in 15 years.
The Committee for the Restitution of Land Rights is created to investigate claims.
The Department of Land Affairs' redistribution
program begins. There are three components of the DLA mission: redistribution,
land restitution and tenure reform.
The Land Reform (Labor Tenants) Act protects tenure rights of people living on
farms, allowing farm dwellers to achieve long-term rights to land and preventing
arbitrary eviction. The act also grants labor tenants the right to apply for ownership
of the portion of the farm for which they have historically had use rights.
The Extension of Security of Tenure Act passes in November, protecting rural occupiers
of land (other than labor tenants) against arbitrary eviction.
closing date for filing restitution claims -- 63,000 claims are filed.
A government redistribution policy is implemented largely by the Settlement/Land
Acquisition Grant, which gives grants to people wishing to buy land on the open
The Strauss Commission investigates the constraints facing poor people in rural
areas attempting to access financing to invest in land. The commission report
is a major factor in sweeping changes made to the Land Bank. Also in 1996, the
Land Claims Court is established to hear disputes arising from laws underpinning
the land reform initiative. [Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994, the Land
Reform (Labor Tenants) Act 3 of 1996 and the Extension of Security of Tenure Act
62 of 1997]
Following general elections, the new minister of Agriculture
and Land Affairs, Thoko Didiza, calls for sweeping review of land reform and policy
programs to address major problems with delays in land claims being addressed.
Department of Land Affairs launches a new redistribution program, entitled Land
Redistribution for Agricultural Development. The new program allows for larger
land grants. LRAD is based on a program model actively promoted by World Bank
staff, and based on experiences in Brazil and Colombia.
statistics show that nearly half of land claims lodged have been settled (33,510
out of approximately 69,000).
Pan African Congress Secretary General Thami Ka Plaatje writes
an article in the City Press congratulating Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
on his "resolute commitment to the return of dispossessed land to the indigenous
conquered people of Zimbabwe."
South Africa Labor Minister Membathisi Mdladlana says his country
has a lot to learn from Mugabe's land reform program. The political opposition
in South Africa denounces his remarks as "chilling."
Almost 2 million hectares of land have been transferred. This amounts to 2.3 percent
of all agricultural land.
Thabo Mbeki signs several amendments to the 1994 Restitution
of Land Rights Act, allowing the minister of agriculture, Thoko Didiza, to expropriate
farms without going to court. The amendment causes an outcry from landowners.
According to the law, current owners must be fully compensated for land.
In a major land transfer, Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza
hands over 18.28 million hectares of land to residents who had been forcefully
removed after the Forestry Act of 1941 claimed it as forestland.
President Mbeki's deadline for all outstanding land claims to
By Jessica Moore, Online NewsHour