Freedom Day: 3 Apartheid laws that still exist today

When South Africa became a democratic country many of the apartheid laws were repealed but during the first democratic parliament, some laws remained as part of a transition agreement.

This meant that parliament had to rationalise some laws to bring into commonality some legislation that governed different territories such as the Bantustans.

The Economic Freedom Fighters re-ignited the conversation around these laws in 2016 when MP Floyd Shivambu accused the governing ANC of neglecting legislative reform and a failure to repeal legislation that was there pre-1994.

Here are some Apartheid Laws that still exist today:

Prohibition of the Exhibition of Films on Sundays and Public Holidays Act

It was passed in 1977 and was never repealed. The law barred people from watching movies on Sundays and on public holidays. The act, which was amended in 1992 states: “Any person who contravenes the provisions of subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand five hundred rand or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.”

Riotous Assemblies Act

This law was meant to protect “Europeans against non-Europeans” in 1956 when it was drafted. The Act set to consolidate the laws relating to riotous assemblies and the prohibition of the engendering of feelings of hostility between the European and non-European inhabitants of the Republic and matters incidental thereto, and the laws relating to certain offences. The EFF’s bid to repeal the law fell on deaf ears recently when it was struck off the court roll.

The Public Gatherings Act

The Public Gatherings Act regulates matters associated with gatherings that are held in private or public spaces like streets, parks, steps of a building, etc. The Gatherings Act is a manual that explains in detail exactly what must be done, and how, in order for a gathering to be legal. During apartheid the act was used to prevent large groups of black people from galvanising and coming together with fears that it would incite violence and there would be plots to overthrow the government. Earlier this year, Western Cape High Court Judge Thandazwa Ndita declared a section of the Regulation of Gatherings Act unconstitutional. This comes after 21 members and supporters of the Social Justice Coalition were charged with contravening the act during a peaceful protest in 2017.


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