In 1950 the Group Areas Act was passed which gave the South African government the power to segregate the entire country by allocating separate areas to the different population groups. Part of this overall plan eventually involved the development of the 10 ethnically based (tribal) homelands. 


23" x 38"  Oil on Canvas                                                (1999)


Another part involved designating specific smaller areas (like townships or Black Spots) where the black population was to reside and work if that was where they were born. Typically these were on the outskirts of towns, cities and suburbs reserved for whites or were rural areas, often on land that was impoverished and which had limited, sustainable agricultural potential. To implement this policy, the Act provided for forced removal and resettlement of black people from areas designated for whites. Since 1948 four million people were forcibly removed from their homes, with 3.5 million forcibly removed between 1960-1983.


People were often given very little notice prior to removal and so had little or no time to pack and prepare their belongings. They were trucked from their homes to remote areas of the country and dumped there. Most often there was no infrastructure in these places and hence no running water or electricity. People had to establish squatter camps using whatever materials were available. There was no industry and therefore no jobs. They had to subsist on the land which often was totally unsuitable for agriculture. Typically only women, children and the elderly stayed while the men migrated back to the urban areas seeking employment to support their families. Cheap black labor was used extensively in the mines - gold and diamonds - and used to build the wealth of the country in which blacks had no share. In effect these policies were a form of social engineering or ethnic cleansing long before we began using these terms.


The images in Forced Removals were made by removing the black paint from the surface.