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What Were South African Apartheid Era Identity Numbers?

The South African Identity Number of the 1970s and 80s enshrined the Apartheid era ideal of racial registration. It was brought in to effect by the 1950 Population Registration Act which identified four different racial groups: White, Coloured, Bantu (Black) and others. Over the next two decades the racial classification of both the Coloured and other groups were extended until, by the early 80s there was a total of nine different racial groups being identified.

Over the same period, the Apartheid government introduced legislation creating independent homelands for Blacks, effectively making them aliens in their own country. The initial legislation for this actually dated back to before the introduction of Apartheid - the 1913 Black (or Natives) Land Act, which had created reserves in the Transvaal, Orange Free State and Natal provinces. The Cape province was excluded because Blacks still had a limited franchise (entrenched in the South Africa Act which created the Union) and which required a two-thirds majority in parliament to remove. Seven percent of the land area of South Africa was dedicated to roughly 67% of the population.

With the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act the Apartheid government lead the way for the establishment of territorial authorities in the reserves. The 1963 Transkei Constitution Act gave the first of the reserves self-government; and with the 1970 Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act and 1971 Bantu Homelands Constitution Act the process was finally legalised.

QwaQwa was proclaimed the second self-governing territory in 1974 and two years later, through the Republic of Transkei Constitution Act, the first of the homelands became independent.

By the early 80s, through the creation of independent homelands (or Bantustans), Blacks were no longer considered true citizens of the Republic.

The remaining citizens of South Africa were classified according to eight categories: White, Cape Coloured, Malay, Griqua, Chinese, Indian, Other Asian, and Other Coloured.

The South African Identity

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