The Internally Displaced in South Africa: The Strategy of Forced Removals and Apartheid

Jura Falconis, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 491-522,1995-1996

30 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2011 Last revised: 12 Nov 2012

Date Written: December 15, 1996


White South Africa's system of apartheid created and maintained a strategy of forced removals of the majority black population as a means of dividing and controlling the economic and political power of black South Africans. The policy of forced removals was a pillar of the apartheid system, without which apartheid could not have become as fully entrenched as it was in South African society, before the establishment of black majority rule with the first multiracial elections in April 1994.

Despite the assertion of the black majority to political power, however, the long standing effects of the white minority's forced removal policy remain and perpetuate the injustice of apartheid, creating an enormous obstacle to the reformation of South Africa and the economic and political empowerment of its black citizens.

In this article, I refer to 'forced removals' in terms of the statutory, regulatory and economic means by which the white minority government of South Africa controlled the black majority's right to take up residence and work, and the process by which black were excluded from white controlled areas. I will discuss the problem of the internally displaced in South Africa, the historical origins and the evolution of the pervasive phenomenon of forced removals that lies at its origin.

By way of introduction, I will briefly discuss the definition of internally displaced and the specific form it takes in South Africa. In the first chapter, I establish the link of the forced removals with the economic and political aspects of the apartheid policy(2) and I explain some of the methods used by the government to achieve these removals. In the second chapter I discuss the different categories of forced removal and their relation to political and economic developments. In the third chapter I outline the different forms of resistance against forced removal and the psychological and material loss for the relocated people. This constitutes an appropriate link to the last chapter dealing with South Africa in the post-apartheid era, the transitional Constitution, the 1994 Restitution of Land Rights Act and the African National Congress's broader and innovative program of reconstruction and development.

Suggested Citation

Henrard, Kristin A. M., The Internally Displaced in South Africa: The Strategy of Forced Removals and Apartheid (December 15, 1996). Jura Falconis, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 491-522,1995-1996. Available at SSRN:

Kristin A. M. Henrard (Contact Author)

Erasmus School of Law ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 100
Rotterdam, 3000 DR
0031104081806 (Phone)


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