The Natives Land Act, 1913 (subsequently renamed Bantu Land Act, 1913 and Black Land Act, 1913; Act No. 27 of 1913) was an Act of the Parliament of South Africa that was aimed at regulating the acquisition of land. According to Britannica:
www.britannica.com, accessed 29 March 2021
"The Natives’ Land Act of 1913 defined less than one-tenth of South Africa as Black “reserves” and prohibited any purchase or lease of land by Blacks outside the reserves. The law also restricted the terms of tenure under which Blacks could live on white-owned farms."


The Natives Land Act of 191319 June 1913 Native Land Act
", ''This day in history'', publish date unknown (accessed 20 December 2007).
was the first major piece of segregation legislation passed by the Union Parliament. It was Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act, 1991|replaced in 1991. The act decreed that natives were not allowed to buy land from whites and vice versa. Exceptions had to be approved by the Governor-General. The native areas left initially totaled less than 10% of the entire land mass of the Union, which was later expanded to 13%. The Act further prohibited the practice of serfdom or sharecropping. It also protected existing agreements or arrangement of land hired or leased by both partie

This land was in "native reserve" areas, which meant it was under "communal" tenure vested in African chiefs: it could not be bought, sold or used as surety. Outside such areas, perhaps of even greater significance for black farming was that the Act forbade black tenant farming on white-owned land. Since so many black farmers were sharecroppers or labor tenants that had a devastating effect, but its full implementation was not immediate. The Act strengthened the chiefs, who were part of the state administration, but it forced many blacks into the "white" areas into wage labor.


According to the paragraph 'The impact of the Land Act', in this reference: "Perhaps the most visible impact of the Act was that it denied Africans access to land which they owned or had been leasing from White farmers." As outlined in the account of the deputation made to the then Minister of Justice of South Africa, Jacobus Wilhelmus Sauer, in the paragraph 'Responses to the Land Act' of the same reference: "Also in May 1913 the SANNC sent a deputation to Jacobus Wilhelmus Sauer to persuade him to not proceed with the bill which would make Africans squatters and render them homeless."


The opposition was modest but vocal. John Dube used his newspaper to create an issue. As president of what would become the African National Congress, he supported whites like William Cullen Wilcox, who had created the ''Zululand Industrial Improvement Company''. That had led to them supplying land to thousands of black people in Natal. Dube was one of five people who were sent to Britain to try to overturn the law once it came into force in South Africa. A viewpoint somewhat irreconcilable with the view expressed in the preceding paragraph, is that expressed in the paragraph 'Responses to the Land Act ' in this South African History Online reference: "The Natives Land Act sparked fierce opposition particularly by Black African people..." The paragraph goes on to outline criticism of the Act, followed by organised protests: "Between 28 February and 26 April 1913 African leaders continued criticism of the Land Bill in columns of newspapers. However, this changed dramatically after the first reading of the bill on 25 February. Protest meetings were organised in various parts of the country. On 9 May the first major protest meeting was organised by the SANNC at the Masonic Hall in St. James, Cape Town." Furthermore, there was the deputation to Jacobus Wilhelmus Sauer, as already mentioned in the paragraph entitled 'Impact' above. Sol Plaatje traveled to Britain with the SANNC (later the African National Congress) to protest against the Natives Land Act but to no avail. He collected transcripts of court deliberations on the Natives Land Act and testimonies from those directly subject to the act in the 1916 Book ''Native Life in South Africa''.

Political ironies

Much political irony surrounded the Act: * The minister at the time of its introduction, J.W. Sauer, was a Cape Liberal who opposed disenfranchisement of blacks. He, however, advocated for "separate residential areas for Whites and Natives" in the Parliamentary debate on the bill. * John Tengo Jabavu, a prominent "educated African" welcomed the Act, but Merriman and Schreiner opposed the Act on principle.https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1120&context=etd_hon_theses

See also

*History of South Africa (1910–1948) *South Africa under apartheid



L.M. Thompson, ''A History of South Africa''!

External links

Text: Natives' Land Act

1913 Land Act (Google Cultural Institute)
{{Apartheid legislation navbox Category:Apartheid laws in South Africa Category:1913 in South African law