| The battery of race laws
introduced in the early 1950s, and extended in following years, affected every
aspect of life for South Africans.
It provided whites with access to the most privileged suburbs,
education, jobs and positions, even to the extent of exclusive access to
beaches, theatres, parks and public toilets. Blacks, conversely, were excluded
from these by law, ruthlessly enforced by the police. Coloureds and Indians
enjoyed more privileges than blacks, but all 'non-whites' were disadvantaged
and disenfranchised politically.
Discrimination occurred at two levels, there was Grand
Apartheid, which established separate homelands and areas, and 'Petty
Apartheid' which segregated everyday places. The Separate Amenities Act of
1953, included a clause stating that separate facilities no longer had to be
'substantially equal', so allowing the government to provide better facilities
Every amenity imaginable was subject to racial categorisation,
from taxis and ambulances, parks, maternity wards and graveyards to walkways
over roads and parking spaces in drive-in cinemas. Beaches were strictly
segregated with those offering more facilities, bathing and interest (such as
Boulders Beach) designated 'White only'. Africans were only permitted on Mnandi
Beach, and although coloureds were allocated more coastal areas these were
unattractive and lacking in facilities.
In the mid-fifties, the government attempted to further
restrict racially mixed gatherings by amending the Group Areas Act to prevent
anyone going to a restaurant, a concert or the cinema in an area not zoned for
their racial group. With the threat of large fines, only a few groups, such as
the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) and the Liberal Party,
dared continue mixed social gatherings.
The Native Laws Amendment Act (1957) prohibited Africans from
going to church services in white areas. However, despite the lack of protest
by the Dutch Reformed Church, the law was not enforced and some churches became
the rare public places where cross-racial gatherings persisted.
Somewhat ironically, the only other places where this occurred
were in nightclubs such as the Catacombs and Navigators' Den, famous for
drug-dealing and prostitution.
Higher education in Cape Town was affected by apartheid laws
in the late fifties that designated the University of the Western Cape as
'coloured' and permitted UCT to admit African students only if the course they
applied for was not taught at a 'bush' campus.
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