The following letter was addressed by Mr JA Marais to the Editor of Consultus, a periodical magazine of the Advocate’s Bar, dated 20 July 1998. It gives an explanation of the policy of “apartheid”. It should be read by everyone who is really interested in what “apartheid” really was.

The article, Towards Truth: The GCB’s submission to the TRC, by Jeremy Gauntlett, SC, is in a way correctly entitled in that it does not pretend to tell the whole truth, only contributing towards truth. This applies particularly to his handling of what he terms “The keystones in the house of apartheid”.
He lists three laws concerning racial relations enacted before the Afrikaner National Government (ANG) came to power in May 1948, namely:
 The Native Land Act 27 of 1913.
 The Native administration Act 5 - 38 of 1927
 The Native (Urban Areas) Act 25 of 1945
Pass Laws repealed and other restrictions relaxed
In contrast to this limited selection from the pre-1948 period, he lists seven acts introduced from 1949 to 1966, which already suggest an imbalance. Among the latter there is for example The Native (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act 67 of 1952. Yet, there is no mention that there had been Pass Laws, introduced originally by the British Cape Colonial Government in 1809 and subsequently administered by all governments preceding the 1948 Afrikaner government.
The 1945 Native (Urban areas consolidation) Act that he names was preceded by the Native (Urban Areas) Act 21 of 1923 – both enactments of a government led by Genl Smuts. But this parentage of one of the “keystones in the house of apartheid” is not acknowledged by the author. In passing the original section 10 imposed an absolute prohibition on Blacks in an urban area. Remarkably it was the Afrikaner National Government (ANG) that amended this law to allow a black person without a permit to be in an urban area for 72 hours, and which introduced a relaxation in regard to Blacks who had been in the service of one employer for 10 years, or who had had lawful employment in the area for 15 years.
These two examples show that the so-called “apartheid” government were not introducing new political or social principles in South Africa, but were operating on the foundations that had been laid by former governments and had been recognised for generations. Furthermore, as shown above, the ANG introduced measures whereby the position of Blacks was made more tolerable, a fact contradicting the general trend of critical comment on the policies and practices of the ANG.
The history and sense of “apartheid”
As far as “apartheid” is concerned it is necessary to look beyond the present emotional sound and fury. “The policy called ‘apartheid’ which now evokes such hostility abroad”, wrote LE Neame, former editor of the now defunct Rand Daily Mail, “is not a new and more evil way of treating Blacks and Coloureds. ‘Apartheid’ is simply the Afrikaans word for separation – and separation has been the underlying principle of the policy of Europeans in the African subcontinent for generations”.
Neame was not a National Party supporter, and what he said was the truth, acknowledged by many objective observers.
HW Hancock in “Smuts 1919-50” says: “Apartheid was a new name for the segregationist policies which all previous governments had pursued on this or that sector of the racial front, but never as yet along the whole unbroken front of racial theory and practice.”
Intellectually acceptable
So, the National Party did not introduce a new principle in regard to racial relations, but co-ordinated the fragmentary prescriptions, conventions, rules and regulations. And as The Star said after Dr HF Verwoerd was assassinated on 6 September 1966: “Long before he became Prime Minister he had started to fashion the instinctive but amorphous philosophy of apartheid into a cohesive and intellectually acceptable system”. So, real apartheid was a manifest improvement on the haphazard arrangements introduced by the British colonial administrations and subsequent South African governments. And – very important – it was intellectually acceptable, even to a liberal, as the editor of The Star.
In the light of the present outcry over the policies pursued by Dr Verwoerd, it is sobering to read what for example the Sunday Times wrote after Dr Verwoerd’s death. It was described as “a national disaster and an immeasurable, incalculable loss to South Africa”. And: “The brilliant evolvement of his policy... the great promise it held for the future...”
For truth, historical knowledge and fairness are required.
Anti-apartheid and anti-Afrikaner
What is very significant is that the word ”apartheid” was not translated in English, though there is the literal equivalent of “apartness” and other terms.
“There is no reason”, wrote Dr Edgar Brookes in Apartheid – a documentary study of modern South Africa, “why a translation such as ‘separation’ could not have been used, but the intention was most probably to suggest, by the use of a foreign word in the English language, something foreign and ominous. Something so bad that there was no word at all in the English language for it”. This contention by Dr Brookes has never been refuted. And it undoubtedly signifies malignant intentions and a disregard for the rules of honesty, the object being to stigmatise “apartheid” as an evil identified with Afrikaners, and thus make the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) equivalent to Anti-Afrikaner Movement.
This, of course, is an essential part of the truth that has to be recognised in dealing with the South African history of recent decades. Perhaps even more important it is to deal with segregation/ “apartheid’ measures introduced by the former colonial powers which drew the lines on which the Afrikaner government proceeded after 1948, and which may rightly be described as “the keystones of the house of apartheid” in South Africa. Some of these are the following:
 In 1894 Cecil John Rhodes, as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, intervened to prevent a Coloured man, Krom Hendricks, from being included in a cricket team which had been selected to tour Britain, a ruling which was followed by all subsequent governments up to 1948.
 In 1893 Rhodes enforced racial separation (“apartheid”, if you will) in public schools. And in 1905 racial separation in public schools became compulsory under an anti-Afrikaner Progressive Party government led by Dr Leander Starr Jameson.
Since then, it was the way of life in South Africa until the decadent “National” Party receded from its principles. Racial separation in sports and education was certainly not an innovation of the 1948 government.
 Political separation/ “apartheid” on racial lines dates from the previous century, Asiatics having been disfranchised in Natal in 1896. They were to get separate parliamentary representation in terms of the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act passed by the UP government of Genl Smuts in 1946, but which was repealed when the Nationalists took power in 1948. A law of 1865 during the governance of Sir Theophilus Shepstone made it so difficult for Blacks to register as voters in Natal that not more than a dozen or so ever became voters.
 In the Transvaal there was no political equality between Whites and Blacks and Coloureds. And in the Free State the constitution of the eighteen fifties restricted citizenship to Whites.
The Lagden Commission appointed by Alfred Milner in 1903 recommended in 1905 the separation of Black South Africans from White South Africans both as occupiers of land and as voters. And as HW Hancock writes in Smuts 1919-50: “The report of the Lagden commission was destined to survive for three decades as the main blueprint of Native policy in South Africa. In 1913 Botha’s government implemented its recommendations with regard to land”. So much for the origins of The Native Land Act 27 of 1913 named by Mr Gauntlett as one of the “keystones in the house of apartheid” – real “apartheid” dating from 45 years before 1948, and not initiated by an Afrikaner government.
 The South Africa Act 1909, formulated by the Union Convention and sanctioned by the British Parliament, restricted membership of the South African Parliament to “British subjects of European descent”, a flagrant and most far-reaching “apartheid” measure, to which Mr Gauntlett strangely does not refer in his catalogue of the “keystones in the house of apartheid”.
 The removal of Blacks from the common voters roll in 1936 and giving them separate parliamentary representation through White persons was an enactment of the United Party Government of Gens. Hertzog and Smuts, and it followed the system of political separation of races introduced by the British Imperial government in other countries. Again, Mr Gauntlett does not name this important “apartheid” enactment as a “keystone in the house of apartheid”.
The policy of political “apartheid” was therefore a continuation of policies pursued by all previous governments in South Africa. And truth requires that this be acknowledged.
Residential and economic
 Enforced residential separation/ “apartheid” of races was introduced by the British Colonial Government in the Cape by means of a stipulation in every deed of transfer, reading as follows: “No purchaser or his successor in title shall have the right to sell or in any way alienate any lots to coloured people or allow any coloured people to occupy any erf or portion thereof as a tenant”. The National Party Government of 1948 did not, therefore, introduce a new principle in passing the Group Areas Act and its subsequent amendments.
 In the economic sphere, the Labour Party Minister, HW Sampson, in the Pact Government introduced the Mines and Works Acts, 1925, which laid the foundations for job reservation in South Africa.
Sexual relations
 The Immorality Act 23 of 1957 did not introduce the prohibition of interracial sexual intercourse. Before the time there was the 1927 Immorality Act, and before that it was already an offence in Natal for White women to have intercourse with “coloured” men, which specified “Hottentots, Coolies, Bushman, Lascars (Indian sailors), or any other person usually called a native”.
In the Cape and the free State intercourse between a Native male and a White female was punishable when the man derived benefit from it. Ironically, the Transvaal was the only province in which there was yet no corresponding prohibition.
The 1957 Act, generally speaking, confirmed the legal situation in the Cape, the Free State and Natal, as far as culpability of non-White males having intercourse with White women was concerned, but it further made it an offence for White men to have intercourse with non-White women. The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act was a logical corollary to these prohibitions. So, again, the ANG did not introduce new principles in this regard. They did what seemed logically and morally justified in the light of the precedents.
From the above it should be clear the “the keystones in the house of “apartheid” are really to be found in the Southern African history of pre-1948, and certainly not only in the three pre-1948 Acts of 1913, 1927 and 1945 named by Mr Gauntlett. And, ironically, the principles of apartheid were introduced in South Africa’s legal system and social set-up by English administrations. As LE Neame (quoted above) said: “Apartheid is only the Afrikaner word for separation – and separation has been the underlying principle of the policy of the Europeans in the African subcontinent for generations”. It is not truthful to be silent on historical facts such as dealt with above.
Arrest and detention: yesterday and the day before
The other part of Mr Gauntlett’s article deals with security laws and the judiciary. He says: “The security laws were clothed with virtual unrestricted powers of arrest and detention”. It is common cause that these provisions prevailed during the time of the terrorist war conducted against South Africa from “Front Line” states, backed up by the Soviet Union, other Communist states and Britain, where the ANC had its head quarters. These measures were essentially war measures. And it is revealing that in the 1939-45 war – not fought against South Africa – the Smuts government passed Acts no's 13 and 32 of 1940, which empowered the Minister of Defence (later the Minister of Justice) and certain officers responsible to him, “to arrest and to detain any person” whose detention was considered “desirable in the interest of the state or in the person’s own interest”. This, patently, is not different from the powers taken by the SA government in countering the Communist-led and –inspired terrorist war against South Africa.
The Smuts law further empowered the Minister “to order the arrest and detention for questioning of any person whom he suspected on reasonable grounds of sabotage, or of the intention to commit sabotage, or of possessing information relative thereto”. Such a person might be released, charged in court, of interned – in practice usually the latter. The measures taken by the Government in recent decades follow the same lines. And it has nothing to do with “apartheid”.
Defence against terrorists
So, what the SA government did in the recent decades in defence against the terrorist attacks was not new in South Africa. It had its precedent in the Smuts government’s course of action in the war fought “to make the world safe for democracy”. And for the sake of truth, mention of this is necessary.
It is fallacious not to make it perfectly clear that the security laws of the ‘fifties, ‘sixties and ‘seventies were introduced during a period of civil unrest which developed in a war and revolutionary action by unconventional means, as is the nature of a campaign of sabotage and terrorism.
Communism before 1948
The Suppression of Communism Act 44 of 1950 had its origin in the 1946 strike by mineworkers and consequent actions by the then Smuts government, including the appointment of a commission of inquiry on whose findings Gen. Smuts ordered police raids on the CPSA mouthpiece, The Guardian, the communist-controlled Springbok Legion and several Communist-orientated trade unions.
Arrests and convictions of Communists followed in 1946, including that of Abraham Fischer. As a result of the findings of a further commission of inquiry charges of sedition were brought against the leaders of the CPSA, but were withdrawn on a technicality in May 1948. The investigating officer, Capt DH Botha, reported: “The idea apparently is to take charge of affairs by means of a fifth column. I would, therefore, suggest on broad principles the Communist Party of SA, and indeed those of other countries, are engaging in nothing else than high treason in the real sense of the meaning and definition of that crime, as it is know to us”.
This is what the Afrikaner government had to deal with when it took over in 1948. It made a thorough study of Capt Botha’s report on the rôle of the Communists in the 1946 strike and as a result thereof they passed the Suppression of Communism Act, 1950.
Communism and ANC
It is not necessary to labour the point that the ANC has, from an early stage, not only been infiltrated by Communists, but has been actually under the control of the SACP (previously the CPSA). In 1985 only eight of the 30 members of the National Executive of the ANC were not members of the Communist Party, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma being listed among the 22 members of the Communist Party. In 1988 the tally was 24 out of 35. It is extremely unlikely that this ratio would have changed to the disadvantage of the SACP.
The Rivonia trial of 1964 provided ample evidence of Communist involvement in the ANC, the Judge President, Mr Quartus de Wet, finding that Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu (accused no’s 1 and 2) were “convicted communists” who had “organised sabotage on a wide scale, and had plotted armed revolution”, aided and abetted by the USSR and other communist governments and African leaders. The judge said that they should have been charged with high treason, a sentiment shared by the leader of the then parliamentary opposition, Sir de Villiers Graaff. And the Rand Daily Mail on 17 June 1964 said that the death penalty would have been justified.
“South Africa a shining example of peace”
Thereafter the Communist Party, having been infiltrated by police agent Gerard Ludi and others, was exposed, and its leaders, including Abraham Fischer, were apprehended, tried and jailed. In the same time the militant Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) operating from Lesotho, was destroyed as a revolutionary force by the security forces.
The country thereafter enjoyed such a period of prosperity, peace and safety that The Rand Daily Mail on 30 July 1966 wrote that “South Africa is a shining example of peace on a troubled continent... the nation is suffering from a surfeit of prosperity”, and Verwoerd “can snap his fingers at the United Nations”. So, through the Verwoerd government’s will to govern and stern action “the opposition to apartheid” became impotent.
Jan Botha in Verwoerd is Dead wrote “...he (Verwoerd) had ground down the white opposition inside Parliament and the non-white resistance outside of it to such and extent that it seemed as if he had become invincible and immovable... the country was militarily strong and resilient, the police and security forces were effectively dealing with all attempts at subversion and infiltration, the country’s economy was dynamic, expanding and had become largely self sufficient”. The living standard of non-whites in the industrial sector was rising at 5.3% p.y. against 3.7% for Whites, and employment of new labour in the formal sector stood at 73.6% p.y. This is what an “apartheid” government did for South Africa and its population.
Communists against Afrikaners
While South Africa was enjoying this unprecedented peace and prosperity under an Afrikaner government presided over by Dr HF Verwoerd, “the Communist radio broadcasts beamed at South Africa from Leipzig, Prague and Moscow continually emphasised that the Boer government and their racist language were ‘the oppressors of the black majority’ and would have to be destroyed, one commentator boasting that ‘there would be no room for Afrikaner oppressors in the new Azania’”, as reported in a column by the Rev Robert L Slimp in The Edgefield Advertiser in the USA on 1 May 1990.
In one of the ANC’s pamphlets distributed in December 1961 it was stated: “To destroy Verwoerd, we must destroy the instruments of White power...the mines, the railways, the docks, the factories, the farms, the police, the whole administration. Organised violence will smash apartheid”
Verwoerd assassinated
This hate campaign continued unabatedly and in an astonishing sequence of events, The Sunday Tribune of 29 August 1966 banner-headlined a report: “Verwoerd must go’ plan: Cape Nats back Anton Rupert”. (Note: not “oppressed Blacks”, but Whites led by one of the super-rich). And in the report it was said that the campaign was “spearheaded by Mr Piet Cillié”, editor of Die Burger. Nine days later, on 6 September, Dr Verwoerd was assassinated by the Communist Demetrio Tsafendas.
It is of great significance that although Dr Verwoerd is still being represented as the personification of “apartheid”, not a single person has applied to the Tutu Commission for amnesty for an act committed in the years 1960 to 1966, when Dr Verwoerd was the Prime Minister of South Africa, which must rank as the height of irony in the light of all the concerted efforts to identify the violations of human rights with “apartheid”, and “apartheid” with Dr Verwoerd.
Vorster not defending “apartheid”
After the obviously politically planned assassination of Dr Verwoerd, things changed. The campaign of violence which had been brought to a stop, was resumed by the ANC, and the first terrorist attack from outside South Africa’s borders took place in the north of the then South West Africa three weeks after the killing of Dr Verwoerd.
The ineptly-led Vorster government, through its policy of change and reform, relaxed and repealed apartheid laws and regulations, thereby bringing into operation the law of rising expectations among revolutionaries, a corresponding weakening of the governmental commitment to policies and principles previously entertained, and intensified foreign pressure.
By 1977 the Vorster government were no longer fighting to defend “apartheid”. Racial separation in sports, theatres, hotels and public amenities had already been ended. In October 1974 Mr Pik Botha on behalf of the Vorster government had pledged to the UN Security Council that his government could not defend discrimination on the grounds of race and colour and were committed to move away from it with everything in their power. And in 1977 the Vorster government turned its back on the 1961 constitution of the Republic of South Africa and proposed a racially mixed government for the country in the form of a Council of Cabinets of Whites, Coloureds and Indians. To proceed further along this course, the Wiehahn and Riekert Commissions were appointed to open the way to end job reservation and influx control of Blacks.
Already in 1975 it was reported (The Sunday Times, 20 April): “the Government through its acceptance of the top secret Collective Action Programme against Inflation, has committed itself to a series of proposals that could change the political, economic and social face of South Africa”. (Emphasis added). This falsely named “Action Programme against Inflation” had nothing to do with inflation, but was obviously a political and socio-economic blue print against “apartheid”, in line with Pik Botha’s pledge to the UN.
Events of 1974, ’75, ’76
This was the basis of the Vorster (and later Botha government) policy “to win the hearts and minds” of the people. And it is notable that the response to these 1974 and 1975 moves by the government was the June 1976 Soweto riots, behind which was the United States Information Service, operating to a considerable extent through their library in Soweto.
In the upshot of these events, first Henry Kissinger, as the then US Secretary of the State, on 14 October 1976 said: “I want Black government for South Africa”, and shortly thereafter (4 November 1976) the president-elect, Jimmy Carter, repeated it almost literally: “Black rule for SA”. They knew that the Vorster government were no longer promoting “apartheid”, and was moving in the opposite direction, which inevitably must end in what American imperialists were demanding, namely Black rule.
Defence against terrorists, not defence of “apartheid”
What the SA government were using the security measures for was to defend the country – not “apartheid” – against the ANC-SACP’s campaign, violence and terrorism.
Here for example are some of the relevant statistics for the period 1984-89:
- Private homes destroyed or extensively damaged mainly in townships 7 187
- Buses destroyed or extensively damaged 10 318
- Trains destroyed or extensively damaged 152
- Private delivery vans destroyed or extensively damaged 12 188
- Post Offices destroyed or extensively damaged 62
- Churches destroyed or extensively damaged 49
- Murders by necklace 399
- Death as a result of homes set alig
ht 372
To counter these acts of violence it was incumbent on the government to introduce security measures commensurate with the lawlessness and methods of barbarism that had to be dealt with.
It was in defence of the country and its people against this terrorism that security forces resorted to extraordinary actions, which are now being adjudged outside the context of an aggressive war and are deceitfully represented as acts in defence of “apartheid”.
It is a maxim that truth is the first casualty in a war. But that should not deter us from determining facts and putting them in proper perspective.