This day in history: The Group Areas Act officially repealed


On April 19, 1990, State President FW de Klerk officially repeals the Group Areas Act of 1950 in Parliament, and replaces it with new non-discriminatory measures that will be acceptable to all Houses of Parliament. 

The announcement brought a new measure of freedom to the country, which had up until then, rigorously dictated where people could live according to their race classification.

The decision also formed part of new legislation government planned to install to replace apartheid laws.

De Klerk’s announcement followed shortly on the heels of the news of the unbanning of political parties like the African National Congress and the release of political prisoners. The most notable of those was the release of Nelson Mandela in February 1990.

Other events on this day:

2001 –  The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and 39 international pharmaceutical companies drop their law suit against South Africa and other third world countries manufacturing generic versions of their drugs. The companies launched the suit in 1998, demanding payment for patent infringement. Aside from dropping the suit, a number of companies decided to sell their drugs at cost price, as well as donating some of their drugs.

1999 – World-renowned tenors Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti perform before an audience of around 40 000 in an open air concert at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

1960 – The South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) is founded in Windhoek, South West Africa (now Namibia), to oppose South Africa’s rule of the country. Sam Nujoma is the first leader who would go on to become the first president of Namibia when it was finally granted independence in 1989.

1906 – Zulus in the Natal Colony revolt against increased taxation by the British government. In addition to having to pay taxes on their huts and dogs, the British government introduced a £1 Poll Tax. Britain dispatched 7 000 troops to suppress the rebellion, killing around 4 000 Zulus. The revolt came to be known as the Bambatha Rebellion, after Chief Bambatha, who led the revolt. The rebellion marked the end of African resistance to colonial rule. The increase in tax also increased the number of migrant workers in mines, as Zulu males were forced to leave their land and homes in order to pay the increased taxes.