The Apartheid government approved the Group Areas Act on April 27, 1950. This Act mandated the segregation of various races into particular sections of the city. It also limited property ownership and occupancy to a designated statutory group. These regulations were intended to divide South Africans into categories of white and black people.
The Act was designed by the Department of Native Affairs and administered by the then Bureau of Census. Its purpose was to prevent "township violence" by separating the different racial groups. The government argued that separate townships would be more stable and peaceful than one large township with members of different races living side-by-side.
However, many academics claim that this Act contributed to urban poverty because it restricted housing development in central Johannesburg. There were also reports of police brutality against residents who violated the Act's restrictions. In addition, many blacks were moved from rural areas into cities with little or no transport infrastructure. This can be seen as another form of apartheid through which the government controlled who lived where and stopped blacks moving around the country.
Although the Group Areas Act was not explicitly part of apartheid, it helped the government maintain control over different races. The separation of people based on their race was very important to the government, since they believed that blacks and whites should not mix.
The Group Centres Act of 1950 established residential and business districts in metropolitan areas for each race, with members of other races forbidden from residing in, conducting enterprises in, or owning land in them. In actuality, this legislation, together with two others (1954 and 1955), became known as the "White Laws" because they were intended to resegregate cities by race.
Black Americans were excluded from living in most of these new communities, which were usually located away from downtown streets and railroad lines where there were no black residents. The separation of whites from blacks existed not only geographically, but also functionally: those who lived in white neighborhoods had no contact with people of color except at work or school. The Group Areas Act did nothing to improve racial integration within cities; instead, it reinforced segregation by race and income level.
The decision by federal authorities to enforce the Group Areas Act was another indication that the government was committed to maintaining racial divisions. Northern mayors were able to persuade Congress to pass this law by arguing that it would help them achieve greater stability and order in their cities during a time when riots were becoming more common. However, many black leaders saw the Group Areas Act as yet another example of racism in government. They argued that it was unfair for citizens in all-white neighborhoods to have their lives disrupted by crimes that were being committed by blacks living in adjoining neighborhoods. Moreover, they believed that forcing blacks out of city centers would make it easier for landlords to deny them housing.
The act was designed to prevent racial integration of cities across America. It allowed local authorities to divide large cities into geographical areas called "group centres" by race, even if this resulted in some people being excluded from certain areas.
The law was proposed by Senator Olin Johnston (D-Maine) and supported by many white Southern lawmakers who believed that separate schools were necessary to preserve slavery and traditional southern culture. Opponents included such leaders as Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Bunche, who argued that the law was a form of racism itself. The United States Supreme Court upheld the act's constitutionality in 1951.
Among other things, the act provided that no person could be denied admission to any public school on account of their race or color. It also prohibited employment discrimination against teachers, principals, and other school staff members on the basis of race. Finally, it required cities to provide transportation to children who lived more than 1/4 mile away from their group centre schools.
The law was first used by Chicago officials to justify creating an area called "Negro Town" for black Americans within the city limits.