Apartheid, the South African government's policy of 'separate development' for all groups 'within their own communities', was a series of systematic acts of oppression and discrimination against the overwhelming majority of the population of South Africa. It rendered non-whites political and social outcasts in their own fatherland; violated human rights, especially the right to self-determination; and permeated all aspects of life. Blacks, as part of the policy of total social segregation, were forced to live in 'homelands', a move which not only caused great suffering, but also bred crime, violence and oppression caused by rivalries between 'haves' and 'have-nots'; and hunger, disease, and starvation became the marks of many communities. As apartheid translated into extreme poverty for the black community, it was the women and children who suffered most. Able-bodied men often worked and lived in urban areas, while their wives and families were unable to secure passes for these areas and remained on the homelands, thus negating prospects for a normal family life, and also engendering high numbers of illegitimate children. 'Pass laws' were strictly enforced in the white urban areas and the fines imposed on those who illegally employ blacks had a marked effect on the scope for employment of women. In order to remain in the area, married women had to be included in the residential rights of their husbands, who had to be present after the 'lawful entry' of the wives. If a black woman became widowed or divorced, she might lose her eligibility to live and work in the urban area.
Forced removal to the homelands resulted in uneven population growth; huge tracts of the country could well become perpetual wastelands if development was neglected in the areas made barren by the removals. On the homelands, large numbers of people had no land to cultivate and had to spend most of their money on imported basic foodstuffs. Children were often forced to work in an effort to counter the shortage of male labour, and were severely exploited; those who were not offspring of farm labourers lived in squalid communal huts and had to cook for themselves. They had an inadequate diet and received no education.
Apartheid viewed blacks as cheap labour without rights of their own. Black agricultural workers were excluded from unemployment and sickness benefits; black miners had to work in mines where lax or non-existent safety measures resulted in many accidents, some fatal, and those who refused to work in unsafe mines might be fired without notice; violations of trade union freedoms were rampant; and all blacks, regardless of their trade, had little or no hope for job improvement. Dissenters of apartheid, even women and children, were often subjected to brutal and sophisticated torture; political trials might last 3-4 years, with the accused spending all that time in goal; suspicious deaths of detainees were known; the press was forbidden to publish reports or photographs of people under 'banning orders', and those banned could not communicate with more than one other person at a time.
Examples of the effects of apartheid include:
Apartheid, as a system of government which has the colour of a person's skin as a determining factor enshrined in the law and constitution of the State, is not only an attack upon basic rights, it strikes at human dignity and the right to be and be recognized as an individual. Not only is it an intolerable affront to the coloured races of the world, but also to any concept of humanity. With all its facets taken into account, the criminal effects of apartheid are without comparison regarding denial of human rights and actually amount to a policy bordering on genocide.
Blacks in South Africa are actually living under conditions better than many of their fellows in neighbouring countries, many of whom are struggling for immigration into South Africa. Blacks there at least have the right to protest and demonstrate, and famine and starvation has not yet affected South Africa, as it has so many other African countries which are under inept (often black) rule. Racial policy in South Africa is no more destructive in itself than that of Australia toward its Aboriginals; it is only more visible because South African Blacks are a majority and Aboriginals in Australia a tiny minority.