The purpose of the Group Areas Act of 1950 was to legally establish apartheid in South Africa. It set up segregated residential and commercial districts in urban areas throughout the country. It sought to keep black and mixed raced peoples out of the more desirable and better developed areas of South African cities. Essentially, the Group Areas Act served to prop up the white minority of the country and to keep the non-white majority marginalized. Over the four decades that the act was in effect, hundreds of thousands of non-whites were forcibly removed from areas designated for whites.
The Group Areas Act also defined the races of the "groups". These were "White," "Native," and "Colored." The non-white groups were then subdivided along tribal and linguistic lines.
The Group Areas Act was strictly enforced throughout urban South Africa. Violators could face heavy fines and imprisonment. The Group Areas Act was repealed in 1991, at the effective ending of apartheid in South Africa.