"The Waste Land" is a short story written by Alan Paton. It was first published in 1961. Alan Paton was a writer from South Africa who was very critical of the apartheid regime. This is why it is not surprising that apartheid is most definitely an important theme in his work, including this short story. Apartheid is a term that refers to laws in South Africa which were introduced to keep Black and white people separate. This included, for example, that non-white South Africans had to live in different areas to white South Africans and that they had to use different busses.
Interestingly, when reading this short story, there is seemingly no direct link to apartheid. For example, at no point do we find out the skin color of the man on the bus, nor the skin color of his attackers. Therefore, you could be forgiven to think that this story is not linked to apartheid at all, given that apartheid is all about race. However, when looking at the text more closely, you could argue that one of the story's main themes, which is poverty, is in fact very much linked to apartheid.
After all, it was through the apartheid rules that many people were driven into poverty and had to turn to criminal acts in order to be able to survive. Apartheid most definitely led to an increase of crime in South Africa, so the fact that the man in the story "knew he was in danger ... he saw the figures of the young men waiting under the tree," clearly tells us that people in South Africa felt very much in danger and not safe at all as a result of this.