Restrictions on urban blacks

By 1923, a number of townships are well-established in Johannesburg: Alexandra and Sophiatown (both established in 1904) and Newclare and Westbury are all freehold and to some extent multi-racial. Although the city is dependent on a cheap black workforce, the city planners are not comfortable with blacks living cheek-by-jowl with whites. Housing them outside the city environment is workable, they argue, because of the development of railways and trams.

The Native (Urban Areas) Act of 1923 gives the responsibility of setting aside locations for Africans to the municipalities, but there is to be no question of ownership rights. African people’s presence in towns is to “minister to the needs of the white man”, and when they cease to so minister, it is presumed that they will return to the rural areas.

African access to land, however, has already been curtailed by the Natives Land Act of 1913.