Apartheid is a system of racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 to 1993. In 1994, when Apartheid was dissolved, South Africa held its first fully democratic election. Prior to this election, the people of South Africa had been separated into distinct legal groups based on race – blacks, whites, colored, and Indian.

A few examples of the inequalities that occurred during the Apartheid system in South Africa include:

  • Trains and buses were segregated and made different stops according to the people they served.

  • Black and colored groups were not permitted to vote.

  • Hospitals and ambulances were segregated; because the white hospitals were preferred by health care employees due to their economic superiority, the conditions and treatment in these hospitals were often better than in the black hospitals.

  • Movie theaters, public beaches, swimming pools, toilets, parks, and even graveyards were segregated.

  • There were very few opportunities for any social mixing of different racial groups during Apartheid era. Mixed relationships and marriages were against the law.

  • Non-whites were not allowed to travel freely, even within South Africa. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, non-whites were forced to carry passbooks stating their address and profession at all times, and had to seek permission from the police to enter white areas or to remain away from home for an extended period.

In 1973, Apartheid was deemed, by the General Assembly of the United Nations, as a crime. The UN defined it as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them”  [International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.]