15 October 2012

15 October marks 22 years since the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act was repealed

Recorded as Act no 49 of 1953, this legislation formed part of many other racial segregationist laws and regulations of the apartheid system. It provided for and legalized the racial segregation of public premises, vehicles and services.

Since the apartheid government bordered around policies which reserve the best things for whites, the best facilities were accordingly reserved for whites while those for other races were fairly in poor quality and evidently inferior in standards.

Facilities such as beaches, trains, buses, residential areas, schools, public toilets, restaurants, cinemas/theatres and night clubs had strict laws as to who they cater for. Should a person of the "wrong" race be found at the "wrong" place, or using a "wrong" facility not specifically designated for their race, was immediately prosecuted or even brutally beaten by ruthless and law enforcement officers.

A notable exception to the segregation that was implemented following the act was the Johannesburg Zoo and Zoo Lake. Due to requirements relating to how the land was acquired, segregation was not permitted and consequently the zoo and the public park where the lake is located, were open to all races.

When it was apparent that the apartheid regime was nearing an inevitable end, this law was repealed on October 15, 1990. A significant year in SA's which saw Nelson Mandela being released from prison.

Visit the SAHA-hosted website, www.sthp.saha.org.za to read more about one of the legislations which formed part of the Separate amenities Act.