What was the Group Areas Act about?

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The Group Areas Act, passed by South Africa's apartheid government in 1950, restricted the areas in which various racial groups could live and work. Of course, the best and most developed areas were reserved for white people.

Once an area had been declared "white," the government had the authority to demolish the homes of any nonwhite people who had been living there and force them to move to an area designated for their racial group. This law applied not only to white and black people, but also to the colored community and those of Indian descent.

The act was another strategy undertaken by the apartheid government to keep the Republic of South Africa segregated.

This despicable piece of legislation was eventually repealed in April 1990 as part of the gradual dismantling of the apartheid regime.

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The Group Areas Act was one of the main legislative components of the apartheid system. It was expressly designed to keep races apart. South Africa was divided geographically along racial lines, with each area occupied by members of just one single race. The ruling National Party believed that white people were superior to the majority black population and, accordingly, were entitled to the best land and economic opportunities. As much of this land was occupied by blacks, the Group Areas Act stipulated their forced removal to make way for white homes and businesses.

Under the Act, large numbers of the majority black population were forcibly evicted from land that they and their ancestors had occupied for centuries. Once removed, they were restricted to certain geographical areas reserved exclusively for their habitation. These areas were poor, overcrowded, and offered little scope for economic development. But this was precisely what the government intended, as they did not want the indigenous African people to rise socially and economically to a position where they could challenge the ruling whites.

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