The South African government has been confronted suddenly with a surprising repudiation of one of the harshest aspects of its apartheid policy -- the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of black people from their homes to make way for whites.
Monitor contributor Humphrey Tyler reports that the government has been told to "stop it, and give the homes back" by a 60-member council the government itself appointed. The majority of the members of the President's Council are members of the ruling National Party. Their immediate recommendation applies to two central city areas -- in Cape Town and johannesberg. But the implications go right to the heart of the government's race-separation policies.
The key area involved is a former residential area in Cape Town called District Six. Once a teaming conglomeration of small apartment blocks, one-man businesses, restaurants, churches, mosques, tenement houses, and some more grander homes, it offended the Nationalists' policies because it was racially mixed. Over a period of years an estimated 65,000 people were forced out their homes and rehoused in inhospitable areas far away on the windswept sands of the Cape Flats.
The President's Council has said that the government should give District Six back to its previous residents. Even more important, it has acknowledged that the entire Group Areas legislation, a fundamental prop of the apartheid system, should be investigated because of the racial antagonism it causes. (A Monitor series on foced resettlement in South Africa concludes today on Pages 12, 13, and 14.)