The Population Registration Act No 30 of 1950 (commenced 7 July) required people to be identified and registered from birth as one of four distinct racial groups: White, Coloured, Bantu (Black African), and other. It was one of the 'pillars' of Apartheid. Race was reflected in the individual's Identity Number.
The Act was typified by humiliating tests which determined race through perceived linguistic and/or physical characteristics. The wording of the Act was imprecise, but was applied with great enthusiasm:
"A White person is one who is in appearance obviously white and not generally accepted as Coloured or who is generally accepted as White and is not obviously Non-White, provided that a person shall not be classified as a White person if one of his natural parents has been classified as a Coloured person or a Bantu..."
"A Bantu is a person who is, or is generally accepted as, a member of any aboriginal race or tribe of Africa..."
"A Coloured is a person who is not a White person or a Bantu..."
It could lead to members of an extended family being classified as belonging to different races, e.g. parents White, children Coloured.
"Where one was allowed to live and work could rest on such absurd distinctions as the curl of one's hair or the size of one's lips." Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, © 1994.
Repealed by the Population Registration Act Repeal Act No 114 of 1991.