What are the reasons for the Group Areas Act?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Group Areas Act was the beginning of true apartheid in South Africa, established by the government in 1950 as a way to officially segregate the people and to steal the best lands for the minority of white individuals, who were at the time in power under D. F. Malan.

This act separated areas in the nation and designated them specifically to certain groups, done ostensibly in the name of "equality," essentially mirroring the "separate but equal" idea that was prevalent in the United States around the same time. This was done to create separate areas specifically designed to benefit the minority group of whites in South Africa. This also allowed the government to seize the best land and community areas to use as they saw fit, shunting the other races to more impoverished areas.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The reason behind the Group Areas Act was to officially establish apartheid in the nation of South Africa and to delineate separate areas to each racial group. Essentially a fancy version of a power grab, the predominately white leadership could—and did—declare whatever land and residential areas it so chose as "White only areas," while Africans, Indians, and other groups were relegated to areas as designated by the leadership under D. F. Malan.

This was the beginning of Malan's official apartheid policy that was used to segregate and divide the nation. Typically, the wealthiest and nicest areas of the nation were allotted to the white minority, while hundreds of thousands of individuals from other races were removed from their homes and land to be placed in lower-quality areas.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Group Areas Act of 1950 was one of the major legislative building blocks of apartheid. In keeping with this policy, the Act's primary purpose was to maintain the formal separation of the races. To this end, the Act stipulated that business and residential areas were to be assigned on the basis of race. The more economically developed areas would be reserved exclusively for the ruling white minority. This was designed to ensure the continued domination and control of the white race, and it had the effect of confining the black majority to poverty-stricken slums, townships, and so-called homelands. Under the relevant provisions of the Act, a large number of black Africans were forcibly removed from land formally designated for the sole occupation of whites. The Group Areas Act was an essential component of apartheid and was only repealed as recently as 1991.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial