About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

1952. Natives Abolition of Passes & Coordination of Doc's Act No 67

Christopher (1994: 122) refers to this as the ABOLITION OF PASSES ACT of 1951.

In short, this act co-ordinated documents by abolishing passes and introducing reference books instead. It "required all Africans (including those exempted under the pass laws, and women for the first time [see the NATIVES URBAN AREAS AMENDMENT ACT of 1930], as well as men) to carry 'reference books' containing their photographs, and information about their places of origin, their employment records, their tax payments and their encounter with the police" (Davenport 1987: 374). Dyzenhaus (1991: 40), however, specifically mentions that it "required all African men to carry passes" (emphasis added); women were required to carry passes by the [?] AMENDMENT ACT of 1956.

Dyzenhaus (1990: 40) sees the key to apartheid in this and the POPULATION REGISTRATION ACT of 1950 and Section 10 of the NATIVES LAWS AMENDMENT ACT of 1952.

An often referred-to event partly sparked of by this act took place at Sharpeville (Transvaal) on 21 March 1960. The PAC had earlier announced a national campaign in order to defy the pass laws (in particular, the NATIVES ABOLITION OF PASSES & COORDINATION OF DOCUMENTS ACT). Thus some 5,000 people gathered outside the Sharpeville police station without their passes or 'reference books'. "What followed was not a calculated massacre like the slaughter of Indians at Amritsar in 1919, but a panic reaction" (Davenport 1987: 395). "Unaccustomed to trouble from the local Africans and surpised to see so many, the police did not know what to do. They could not arrest 5,000 people - they had neither the courage nor the cells - nor could they persuade them to go away... The police station was surrounded by a wire fence and ... a scuffle broke out near one of the gates. A police officer was pushed over. The incident excited the interest of the crowd who, wanting to see what had happened, surged forwards. Police witnesses said that at this stage stones were thrown at them. Some young constables, without receiving orders, began firing. The crowd turned and fled, but the firing continued. Sixty-nine people were killed and 180 wounded. Nearly all were shot in the back" (Lapping 1986: 18?f).

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.