Today in 1959 the Extension of University Education Act No 45 commenced.
This act made "it a criminal offence for a non-white student to register at a previously open university without the written consent of the Minister of Internal Affairs".
It also provided for the establishment of a series of new ethnically based institutions for blacks, together with separate universities for coloureds and Indians.
The Afrikaans-medium universities, namely Potchefstroom, Pretoria, Orange Free State and, after Afrikaans had become an established language, Stellenbosch, restricted admission to whites from their initial establishment.
Of the English-medium universities, Rhodes was all-white and Fort Hare in practice was black.
The remaining three, while more open, were by no means fully multi-racial. Natal admitted blacks, but kept its classes racially segregated. Cape Town and Witwatersrand admitted students to courses without regard to race but applied a strict colour bar in social and sporting events.
New universities were established at Bellville in the western Cape for coloureds, Ngoye in Zululand for Zulus, Durban in Natal for Indians, Turfloop in Transvaal for the Sotho-Tswana population, while Fort Hare (formerly Lovedale Mission College) became restricted for Xhosas.
Ever wondered what happened on this day that created our modern democracy?
Yfm brings daily meaning to events that helped South Africa evolve and the people who made it happen. Today in History brings the calendar to life. And every day someone makes a difference in the lives of South Africans. Their contributions help our modern democracy evolve. Whether they are still alive today or not, whether they’re good or bad, we punt the people who change our lives.
Today in 1959 the Extension of University Education Act No 45 commenced.
ALSO TODAY IN HISTORY
- In 1811 William John Burchell left Cape Town with a specially built wagon on a journey, which was to last four years, to explore the interior. Burchell, born on 23 July 1781 in London, was an English explorer, naturalist, traveller, artist and author. He was the son of Matthew Burchell, botanist and owner of Fulham Nursery.
Burchell served a botanical apprenticeship at Kew. On 7 August 1805 he sailed for the island of St Helena aboard the East Indiaman "Northumberland" and intended to set up there as a merchant with a partner from London.
A year of trading saw Burchell unhappy with his situation and the partnership was speedily dissolved. Three months later he accepted a position as schoolmaster on the island and later as official botanist. In 1810 he sailed to the Cape on the recommendation of Gen. JW Janssens to explore and to add to his botanical collection.
During Burchell's travels until 1815 he collected more than 50 000 specimens, and covered more than 7 000 km, much of it over unexplored terrain. He described his journey in Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa, a two-volume work appearing in 1822 and 1824.
His extensive African collections included plants, animal skins, skeletons, insects, seeds, bulbs and fish. After his death by suicide at the age of 81 on 23 March 1863, the bulk of his plant specimens went to Kew and the insects to Oxford University Museum. He is known for the copious and accurate notes he made to accompany every collected specimen, detailing habit and habitat, as well as the numerous drawings and paintings of landscapes, portraits, costumes, people, animals and plants.
Burchell was closely questioned in 1819 by a select committee of the British House of Commons about the suitability of South Africa for emigration, given his experience and knowledge of the country. It was no coincidence that the 1820 Settlers followed a year later.
He is commemorated in the monotypic plant genus Burchellia R. Br., as well as numerous specific names including Burchell's zebra and Burchell's coucal.
- In 1864 the CSS Alabama, American naval raider which found its way into South African folklore, was sunk outside Cherbourg harbour, France, by the USS Kearsarge. The Alabama was built in secrecy in 1862 by British shipbuilders in North West England at Birkenhead, Cheshire.
The new Confederate cruiser was powered by both sail and by two horizontal steam engines. Alabama served as a commerce raider, attacking American Union merchant and naval ships over the course of her two-year career, during which she never laid anchor in a Southern USA port.
She continued her war against northern commerce, raiding in the north and south Atlantic, and the south-western African coast.
After stopping in Saldanha Bay on 29 July 1863 in order to verify that no enemy ships were in Table Bay, she finally made a much needed refitting and provisioning visit to Cape Town.
She then sailed for the East Indies, where she spent six months destroying seven more ships before finally visiting the Cape of Good Hope en route to France. Union warships hunted frequently for the elusive and by now famous Confederate raider, but the few times Alabama was spotted, she quickly outwitted her pursuers and vanished beyond the horizon.
Altogether, she burned 65 Union vessels of various types, most of them merchant ships. During all of Alabama's raiding ventures, captured ships' crews and passengers were never harmed, only detained until they could be placed aboard a neutral ship or placed ashore in a friendly or neutral port.
The Alabama conducted a total of seven raids, spanning the globe, before heading back to France for refit and repairs and a date with destiny.
On 11 June 1864 Alabama arrived in port at Cherbourg, to dry dock and overhaul his ship. Pursuing the raider, the American sloop-of-war USS Kearsarge arrived three days later and took up station just outside the harbour.
On 19 June, Alabama sailed out to meet the Union cruiser. A little more than an hour after the first shot was fired, Alabama was reduced to a sinking wreck. The Alabama's visit to Cape Town in 1863 has passed (with a slight spelling change) into Cape Malay folklore in the Afrikaans song, “Daar Kom die Alibama”. One of the Alabama's flags presented to a Capetonian still hangs in the South African Museum.
- In 1900 the hopes of black people took another knock after British occupation during the Second Boer War. They hoped that the harsh laws affecting blacks would be repealed but the British issued a proclamation stating that the Pass Law would remain in place.
Pass laws inspired numerous resistance campaigns. Before South Africa’s transition to a Union in 1910, protest against colonial laws seemed futile. The first attempt to make black women carry passes was in 1913 when the Orange Free State introduced a new requirement that women, in addition to existing regulations for black men, must carry reference documents. The resulting protest, by a multi-racial group of women, many of whom were professionals, took the form of passive resistance – a refusal to carry the new passes.
Many of these women were supporters of the recently formed SA Native National Congress (which became the ANC in 1923, although women were not allowed to become full members until 1943). The protest against passes spread through the Orange Free State, to the extent that when World War 1 broke out the authorities agreed to relax the rule.
With the Blacks (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act No 67 of 1952 the government amended the pass laws, requiring all black persons over the age of 16 in all provinces to carry a “reference book” at all times – thereby enforcing influx control of blacks from the homelands.
The new reference book, which would now have to be carried by women, required an employer's signature to be renewed each month, authorisation to be within particular areas, and certification of tax payments.
On 9 August 1956 more than 20 000 women of all races marched through the streets of Pretoria to the Union Buildings to hand over a petition to Prime Minister JG Strijdom over the introduction of the new pass laws and the Group Areas Act No 41 of 1950.
In 1960 Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd told Parliament that the riots in places like Sharpeville and Langa could in no way be described as a reaction against the government's apartheid policy and had nothing to do with passes.
From the 1960s, the pass laws were the primary instrument used by the state to arrest and harass its political opponents. By the same token, it was mainly the antagonism towards those pass laws that kept resistance politics alive during this period. Pass laws were finally repealed in 1986.
- In 1913 the Natives Land Act (No. 27 of 1913), also known as the Black Land Act, was passed because of constant pressure by whites to prevent the encroachment of blacks on white areas. This law incorporated territorial segregation into legislation for the first time since Union in 1910.
The law created reserves for black people and prohibited the sale of white-owned territory to black people and vice versa. An annexure designated the territory preliminary allocated to blacks, with a provision that a commission was to investigate the matter further for a more realistic delimitation.
In effect, more than 80% went to white people, who made up less than 20% of the population. The Act stipulated that black people could live outside the reserves only if they could prove that they were in white employment.
Although the law was applicable to the whole of South Africa, in practice it applied only to the Transvaal and Natal. In the Free State, such legislation was already in force since 1876, while a law forbidding blacks from owning property in the Cape would have been in conflict with the constitution of the Union of South Africa, as Cape property-ownership was one of the qualifications for black franchise. Sharecropping on farms in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State was forbidden.
According to debates in Parliament, the Act was passed in order to limit friction between white and black, but black people maintained that its aim was to meet demands from white farmers for more agricultural land and force blacks to work as labourers.
This Act did not go unchallenged. While it was being discussed in Parliament , the South African Native National Congress (SANNC, later to become the ANC), which was formed in 1912, rallied against the proposed law. In 1914 the SANNC submitted a petition to members of the Imperial Parliament and the British Government asking for intervention to stop the Act, but failed to achieve this.
- In 1917 Joshua Nkomo was born. He was the leader and founder of the Zimbabwe African People's Union and a member of the Kalanga tribe. He was affectionately known in Zimbabwe as Father Zimbabwe, Umdala Wethu, Umafukufuku or Chibwechitedza (the slippery rock).
The Kalanga are descendants of Shona who were conquered and assimilated by the Ndebele. Although Nkomo's ZAPU political party represented the Ndebele minority his National Executive Committee were in fact mostly Kalanga. He died on 1 July 1999.
FAMOUS PERSON OF THE DAY
Dr Fabian Ribeiro, medical practitioner assassinated along with his wife by State agents in 1986, was awarded the Order of the Supreme Counsellor of the Baobab (Gold) posthumously by President Thabo Mbeki on 16 June 2004.
Ribeiro was born on 19 June 1933 in Bantule. His father came from Beira in Mozambique, and died in 1942. His mother, from Brits, died in 1975.
Ribeiro completed his first six years of schooling in Glen Cowie, and from standard six to standard nine attended school in Lesotho in preparation for priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
Ribeiro changed his mind regarding the priesthood and matriculated in Inkemane, Natal, in 1950.
Ribeiro studied at Fort Hare from 1951 and completed a BSc degree, after which he studied medicine at the University of Natal in 1954. He completed his internship at King Edward Hospital in Durban in 1959. During his fifth year of study he married Florence Mathe and the couple lived in Chesterville while he completed his studies. In 1960, in partnership with two other doctors, he opened a practice in Welkom and some months later he opened a surgery at his home in Pretoria, followed by a new practice in Mamelodi in 1961, where he worked until his death on 1 December 1986.
Ribeiro remained a devoted practising Catholic and donated generously to his local church.
Over the years Fabian and Florence Ribeiro helped young people in exile through donations of money and contacts and assisted a number of children in obtaining a good education. Ribeiro opened a practice in the Winterveld, a very poor area during that time, and treated patients without charging them.
During the 1970s he recorded evidence of police brutality by taking pictures of victims who came to him for treatment. He also made a series of videotapes that found their way overseas. A well-known video, “Witness to apartheid”, was shot in absolute secrecy.
In 1980 he was imprisoned for a few months on charges of treason, but was successfully defended by George Bizos. In March 1986 a petrol bomb was thrown through a window on the top floor of the Ribeiro house. He and his wife escaped unhurt, but the house was destroyed.
The couple became aware of a number of unsuccessful attempts on their lives and considered leaving the country, but decided to stay.
On 1 December 1986 Fabian and Florence Ribeiro were gunned down in their courtyard and in 1997 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission found they had been assassinated by agents of the State. Amnesty was granted to their killers in 1999 by the TRC Amnesty Committee. A school in Mamelodi, the FF Ribeiro School, was named after them, as well as the street where they used to live.