Population Registration Act, 1950

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Population Registration Act, 1950
enacted by the Parliament of South Africa
The Population Registration Act (Act No. 30 of 1950) was a South African law which from the apartheid era which required every citizen and resident to be classified according to their race and ethnic group, and recorded in the population register. It was one of the foundations of legislative apartheid, with all the subsequent segregation legislation being based on the classification it established.

The act was published and came into force on 7 July 1950. It was repealed on 28 June 1991 by the Population Registration Act Repeal Act, 1991.

This is the text as originally enacted and does not incorporate any amendments. A series of other versions incorporating amendments are also available on Wikisource.

Act

To make provision for the compilation of a Register of the Population of the Union; for the issue of Identity Cards to persons whose names are included in the Register; and for matters incidental thereto.



(Afrikaans Text signed by the Officer Administering the Government.)
(Assented to 22nd June, 1950.)


Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, the Senate and the House of Assembly of the Union of South Africa, as follows:―


Definitions.

1. In this Act, unless the context otherwise indicates—

(i) “alien” means an alien as defined in section one of the Aliens Act, 1937 (Act No. 1 of 1937);

(ii) “board” means a board constituted in terms of section eleven;

(iii) “coloured person” means a person who is not a white person or a native;

(iv) “Director” means the Director of Census appointed under section four of the Census Act, 1910 (Act No. 2 of 1910), and includes the Assistant Director of Census and any officer acting under a delegation from or under the control or direction of the Director;

(v) “ethnic or other group” means a group prescribed and defined by the Governor-General in terms of subsection (2) of section five;

(vi) “fixed date” means the date upon which the census is taken in the year 1951 in terms of section three of the Census Act, 1910 (Act No. 2 of 1910);

(vii) “identity card” means the identity card referred to in section thirteen but does not include an identity card which has lapsed in terms of any regulation;

(viii) “identity number” means the identity number assigned to a person in terms of section six;

(ix) “Minister” means the Minister of the Interior;

(x) “native” means a person who in fact is or is generally accepted as a member of any aboriginal race or tribe of Africa;

(xi) “prescribed” means prescribed by regulation;

(xii) “register” means the register referred to in section two;

(xiii) “regulation” means a regulation made under section twenty;

(xiv) “this Act” includes the regulations;

(xv) “white person” means a person who in appearance obviously is, or who is generally accepted as a white person, but does not include a person who, although in appearance obviously a white person, is generally accepted as a coloured person.


Compilation and maintenance of population register.

2. There shall, as soon as practicable after the fixed date, be compiled by the Director and thereafter maintained by him, a register of the population of the Union.


Data from which register to be compiled.

3. The particulars required for the compilation of the register in respect of the population of the Union as at the fixed date shall be extracted by the Director from the forms and returns received by him under the Census Act, 1910 (Act No. 2 of 1910), in connection with the census taken on the fixed date and from such other records as may be available to the Director.


What persons to be included in the register.

4. There shall be included in the register, in three separate parts thereof, the names of—

(a)

(i) all South African citizens within the Union on the fixed date;

(ii) all South African citizens who enter or are born in the Union after the fixed date; and

(iii) all persons who become South African citizens in the Union after the fixed date;

(b)

(i) all persons who are not South African citizens and are within the Union on the fixed date and were prior to the fixed date born in any part of South Africa included in the Union or admitted to the Union for permanent residence therein; and

(ii) all persons who are not South African citizens and are after the fixed date born in the Union or admitted to the Union for permanent residence therein; and

(c)

(i) all persons who are not South African citizens and are within the Union on the fixed date for a temporary purpose; and

(ii) all persons who are not South African citizens and are admitted to the Union for a temporary purpose after the fixed date.


Classification of persons whose names are included in the register.

5. (1) Every person whose name is included in the register shall be classified by the Director as a white person, a coloured person or a native, as the case may be, and every coloured person and every native whose name is so included shall be classified by the Director according to the ethnic or other group to which he belongs.

(2) The Governor-General may by proclamation in the Gazette prescribe and define the ethnic or other groups into which coloured persons and natives shall be classified in terms of sub-section (1), and may in like manner amend or withdraw any such proclamation.

(3) If at any time it appears to the Director that the classification of a person in terms of sub-section (1) is incorrect, he may, subject to the provisions of sub-section (7) of section eleven and after giving notice to that person and, if he is a minor, also to his guardian, specifying in which respect the classification is incorrect, and affording such person and such guardian (if any) an opportunity of being heard, alter the classification of that person in the register.


Identity number to be assigned to every person whose name is included in the register.

6. The Director shall assign an identity number to every person whose name is included in the register.


The particulars to be included in respect of every person whose name is included in the register.

7. (1) There shall, in respect of every person whose name is included in the register, other than a native, be included in the register the following particulars and no other particulars whatsoever namely—

(a) his full name, sex and ordinary place of residence;

(b) his classification in terms of section five;

(c) the date and place of his birth;

(d) his citizenship or nationality, and in the case of an alien, an indication of the fact that he is an alien;

(e) his marital status;

(f) in the case of a registered voter, the electoral division and polling district in which he is registered as a voter under the Electoral Consolidation Act, 1946 (Act No. 46 of 1946);

(g) the date of his arrival in the Union, if not born in a part of South Africa included in the Union;

(h) a recent photograph of himself, except in the case of a person who has not yet attained the age of sixteen years, or who has been admitted to the Union for a temporary purpose; and

(i) his identity number.

(2) There shall in respect of every native whose name is included in the register, be included in the register the following particulars and no other particulars whatsoever, namely—

(a) his full name, sex and the district in which he is ordinarily resident;

(b) his citizenship or nationality, the ethnic or other group and the tribe to which he belongs;

(c) the date, or if the date is not known, the year or reputed year, and the place, or if the place is not known, the district of his birth;

(d) his marital status;

(e) the year of his arrival in the Union, if not born in a part of South Africa included in the Union;

(f) a recent photograph of himself except in the case of a native who has not yet attained the age of sixteen years, and, in the case of a native who is not a South African citizen, his fingerprints; and

(g) his identity number.

(3) Upon the death or permanent departure from the Union of a person whose name is included in the register, the date of his death or departure from the Union, as the case may be, shall be recorded in the register.


Copies of register to be maintained in every district.

8. (1) There shall be maintained at the office of the magistrate of every district or at such other office within a district as the Minister may approve, a copy of the register containing the names and other particulars recorded in the register in respect of all persons registered as residing within that district.

(2) A list made from the copy of the register maintained in terms of sub-section (1) and containing in respect of every person whose name is included therein the undermentioned particulars and no other particulars whatsoever, shall be open for inspection by the public at the office of the magistrate of the district to which the list relates and at such other places within the district as the Director may determine at all reasonable times during office hours—

(a) his name, sex and ordinary place of residence or, in the case of a native, the district in which he is ordinarily resident;

(b) his classification in terms of section five;

(c) his citizenship or nationality;

(d) in the case of a registered voter, the electoral division and polling district in which he is registered as a voter under the Electoral Consolidation Act, 1946 (Act No. 46 of 1946); and

(e) his identity number.

(3) As soon as a list made from the copy of the register referred to in sub-section (1) becomes available for inspection by the public in terms of sub-section (2) at the office of the magistrate of any district, the Director shall cause to be published in the Gazette and in at least one Afrikaans and one English newspaper circulating in that district, a notice to the effect that such list shall, with effect from a date specified in the notice, be so available for inspection by the public at the office of the magistrate of that district and at such other places within that district as the Director may specify.


Persons to furnish particulars to Director for the inclusion in the register of their names or the names of their wards who have not attained the age of sixteen years.

9. If the name of any person whose name is by this Act required to be included in the register, does not appear on the register, that person or, if that person has not attained the age of sixteen years, his guardian, shall furnish the Director in the prescribed form with such particulars in regard to himself or, as the case may be, his ward under the age of sixteen years, as may be necessary for the inclusion in the register of his or his ward’s name.


Notification of change of residence.

10. (1) Every person (other than a native) whose name is included in the register and the guardian of any such person who has not attained the age of sixteen years, shall within fourteen days or, in a particular case, such longer period as the Director may allow, after any permanent change in the ordinary place of residence of that person or of his ward under the age of sixteen years, as the case may be, notify the Director in the prescribed manner of that change of residence.

(2) Any permanent change in the ordinary place of residence of a native from one district to another shall be notified to the Director by such person and in such manner as may be prescribed.


Objections and appeals against classification of persons in register.

11. (1) Any person who considers himself aggrieved by his classification by the Director in terms of section five and any person who has any objection to the classification of any other person in terms of the said section, may at any time object in writing to the Director against that classification.

(2) Every such objection shall be lodged in duplicate and shall be accompanied by an affidavit in duplicate setting forth fully the grounds upon which the objection is made, and if the objection relates to the classification of a person other than the objector, a copy of the objection and the affidavit shall be transmitted by the Director to the person to whose classification the objection relates.

(3) Every objection received by the Director in terms of sub-section (2) shall be referred by him for decision to a board of not less than three persons, including the chairman, constituted for the purpose by the Minister, and presided over by a person, appointed by the Minister, who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa, or a magistrate: Provided that no objection which relates to the classification of a person other than the objector shall be so referred for decision unless the objector has paid the deposit referred to in sub-section (4).

(4) Every person who lodges an objection with the Director in terms of sub-section (2) against the classification of any other person, shall deposit with the Director an amount of ten pounds which amount shall—

(a) if the objection is sustained by the board to which it has been referred for decision in terms of sub-section (3), be refunded to the objector; or

(b) if the objection is rejected by the board, be forfeited to the State.

(5) The provisions of the Commissions Act, 1947 (Act No. 8 of 1947), except section one thereof, shall apply mutatis mutandis with reference to any board constituted under sub-section (3) of this section: Provided that the Director and every objector and every person in regard to whose classification the objection has been made, shall be entitled to appear before the board concerned either in person or by counsel or attorney on his behalf, to cross-examine witnesses and to adduce such evidence as may be relevant to the matter before the board: Provided further that all sittings of a board shall be held in public or in camera as the person whose classification is in issue may elect.

(6) A board may, if it is satisfied that an objection made in terms of sub-section (1) against the classification of a person other than the objector is unfounded or frivolous or vexatious, order the objector to pay to the person against whose classification the objection has been made, an amount not exceeding an amount equal to the reasonable costs incurred by the latter in connection with his appearance at the hearing of the objection, and any such order shall have all the effects of and may be executed as if it were a civil judgment of a magistrate’s court.

(7) The decision of a board shall be final and binding upon all persons including the Director: Provided that any person who considers himself aggrieved by a decision of a board in regard to his own classification may within thirty days after the decision of the board has been given, appeal against that decision by way of application on notice of motion to the provincial or local division of the Supreme Court of South Africa having jurisdiction in the area within which such person is ordinarily resident.

(8) The division of the said Supreme Court to which appeal is made shall enquire into and consider the matter and shall confirm, vary or set aside the decision of the board, or give such other decision as in its opinion the board ought to have given, and may make such order as to costs as it may deem fit.

(9) Any judgment given or order made by a provincial or local division of the said Supreme Court in terms of sub-section (8), shall be subject to appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa in the same manner and on the same conditions as a judgment given or order made in a civil proceeding in that provincial or local division: Provided that no person other than the person whose classification in terms of section five is the subject of the judgment or order shall have a right of appeal to the said Appellate Division unless an order of costs has been made against such person.

(10) Any decision by the court in terms of sub-section (8) or (9) relating to the classification of any person shall, for the purpose of this Act, be deemed to be the decision of a board.

(11) A member of a board who is not a member of the public service may be paid such remuneration for his services as a member of the board as the Minister may, in consultation with the Minister of Finance, determine.


Director may require proof of correctness of particulars furnished for purposes of this Act.

12. The Director may require any person in respect of whom any particulars required for recording in the register, have been furnished in any form or return received under the Census Act, 1910 (Act No. 2 of 1910), or in any form prescribed under section nine, to furnish to him evidence as to the correctness of any such particulars.


Identity cards.

13. (1) The Director shall, as soon as practicable after the inclusion in the register of the name of any person who has attained the age of sixteen years or after any person whose name has been so included, attains the age of sixteen years, and subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, issue an identity card to that person.

(2) If the person referred to in sub-section (1) is a white person or a coloured person and is not an alien or a person referred to in sub-section (4), the identity card issued to that person shall contain the following particulars and no other particulars in relation to that person whatsoever, namely—

(a) his name and sex;

(b) his classification in terms of section five;

(c) his citizenship or nationality;

(d) his identity number;

(e) a recent photograph of himself; and

(f) the date of issue of the identity card.

(3) If the person is an alien and was born in any part of South Africa included in the Union or admitted to the Union for permanent residence therein, the identity card issued to that person shall contain, in addition to the particulars mentioned in sub-section (2), the following particulars and no other particulars in relation to that person whatsoever, namely—

(a) the date of his arrival in the Union (if not born in a part of South Africa included in the Union);

(b) an indication of the fact that he is an alien; and

(c) his signature or, if he is unable to sign his name, his fingerprints.

(4) If the person is not a South African citizen and has been admitted to the Union for a temporary purpose the identity card issued to that person shall contain all the particulars prescribed in respect of an alien by sub-section (3) except a photograph of that person.

(5) If the person is a native, the identity card issued to him shall contain the following particulars and no other particulars in relation to him whatsoever, namely—

(a) his name and sex;

(b) the ethnic or other group and the tribe to which he belongs and, in the case of a native who is not a South African citizen, his citizenship or nationality;

(c) his identity number;

(d) a recent photograph of himself and in the case of a native who is not a South African citizen, his fingerprints; and

(e) the date of issue of the identity card.


Production of identity cards.

14. (1) After a date to be fixed by the Governor-General by proclamation in the Gazette, which date shall be not less than three months from the date of the proclamation—

(a) any peace officer (as defined in section three-hundred-and-ninety of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, 1917 (Act No. 31 of 1917)) may, whenever he is in terms of sub-section (3) of section twenty-seven of the said Act entitled to call upon any person to furnish such peace officer with his full name and address, request that person; and

(b) any person authorized thereto in writing by the Director may, whenever it is necessary for him to do so for the purpose of carrying out his duties under this Act and upon production of his written authority, request any person,

if that person’s name is by this Act required to be included in the register and he has attained the age of sixteen years, to produce to such peace officer or, as the case may be, to such authorized person, his identity card.

(2) Every person who is in terms of sub-section (1) requested by a peace officer or a person authorized thereto by the Director to produce to him his identity card shall, within seven days of the date of such request, produce his identity card to that peace officer or to that authorized person or at a police station indicated by him and recorded by the peace officer or the authorized person, as the case may be.

(3) If any person fails or refuses to indicate a police station in terms of sub-section (2) the peace officer or the authorized person concerned shall for the purposes of that sub-section indicate and record the police station which he considers nearest to the ordinary place of residence of the said person.


Director may require surrender of identity cards which reflect incorrect particulars and issue new cards.

15. Any person to whom an identity card has been issued which contains any particulars which are incorrect or which by reason of any change of circumstances or by reason of the alteration by the Director in terms of sub-section (3) of section five or by a board in terms of section eleven of the classification in terms of section five of the person to whom it relates, have become incorrect, or on which the photograph of the person to whom the identity card relates has ceased to be a recognizable image of that person shall, on the written request of the Director, surrender the identity card in question to the Director who shall thereupon issue, free of charge, but subject to the provisions of section sixteen, a fresh identity card to that person.


Photographs of persons whose names are included in the register.

16. (1) Every person whose name is included in the register, except a person who has not yet attained the age of sixteen years, shall, at his own expense and as often as it is or becomes necessary to issue an identity card to him, furnish the Director with two copies of a recent photograph of himself.

(2) One copy of the photograph referred to in sub-section (1) shall be attached to the identity card issued to the person concerned and the other copy shall be filed in the register.


Particulars in register not to be published or communicated except in certain cases.

17. (1) No person employed for the purposes of this Act shall, subject to the provisions of section eight and sub-section (2) of this section, publish or communicate to any other person, otherwise than in the course of such employment and for the purposes of this Act, any information acquired by him in the course of his employment, and no person who has come into possession of any such information which to his knowledge has been communicated to him in contravention of the provisions of this section, shall publish or communicate that information to any other person.

(2) The Director may, notwithstanding the provisions of sub-section (1)—

(a) furnish to any department of State for any of the purposes of that department or for the purpose of any criminal proceedings, any particulars recorded in the register in relation to any person whose name is included therein;

(b) on payment of the prescribed fee, furnish to any person upon the written application of that person—

(i) the last recorded address of any person whose name is included in the register;

(ii) any other particulars recorded in the register in relation to any person whose name is included therein, provided the Director is satisfied that it is in the interests of the last-mentioned person to furnish such particulars.

(3) The Director shall not furnish any particulars to any person under paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) unless the purnoses for which the information is required, are set out fully in the written application referred to in that paragraph.


Penalties.

18. Any person who—

(a) for the purposes of this Act knowingly makes or causes to be made a statement which is false in a material particular;

(b) having come into possession of an identity card belonging to another person, represents it as his own;

(c) with intent to deceive, imitates, alters, defaces, destroys or mutilates any identity card;

(d) allows any other person to come into possession of an identity card belonging to him;

(e) without lawful cause fails or refuses to comply with a request by the Director in terms of section twelve or fifteen;

(f) without lawful cause fails or refuses to comply with any of the provisions of sub-section (1) of section ten or sub-section (2) of section fourteen;

(g) contravenes any of the provisions of sub-section (1) of section seventeen,

shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction—

(i) in the case of an offence referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c), to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and imprisonment; and

(ii) in the case of an offence referred to in paragraph (d), (e), (f) or (g) to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.


Evidence and presumption.

19. (1) A person who in appearance obviously is a white person shall for the purposes of this Act be presumed to be a white person until the contrary is proved.

(2) It shall be no defence to a charge under paragraph (f) of section eighteen for failing to comply with the provisions of sub-section (2) of section fourteen that the name of the accused, has not been included in the register or that an identity card has not been issued to him, unless he proves that it was not due to any failure or neglect on his part.


Regulations.

20. (1) The Governor-General may make regulations as to—

(a) the form of identity cards;

(b) the manner in which and the conditions subject to which an identity card shall be delivered to the person to whom it relates;

(c) the issue of duplicate identity cards, the circumstances under and the conditions subject to which they may be issued and the fees payable therefor;

(d) the surrender or seizure of identity cards relating to deceased persons, persons who leave the Union permanently, or persons who have in terms of sub-section (1) of section twenty-one been exempted from those provisions of this Act which relate to the production of identity cards;

(e) the period of validity of identity cards issued to all persons generally or to any particular class of persons, and the issue of fresh identity cards to replace identity cards which have lapsed;

(f) the size of and the requirements with which a photograph referred to in section sixteen shall comply;

(g) the proper maintenance of the register and the particulars recorded therein;

(h) the compilation, in relation to any class of persons whose names are included in the register, of family registers, the maintenance of such family registers and the particulars to be recorded therein;

and generally, as to all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed or which he considers it necessary or expedient to prescribe in order that the purposes of this Act may be achieved.

(2) Any regulations made under sub-section (1) may prescribe penalties for any contravention thereof or failure to comply therewith not exceeding a fine of fifty pounds or imprisonment for a period of six months.

(3) Any regulations made under sub-section (1) shall be laid on the Tables of both Houses of Parliament within fourteen days after promulgation thereof if Parliament is then in ordinary session, or if Parliament is not then in ordinary session, within fourteen days after the commencement of its next ensuing ordinary session, and shall remain on the said Tables for at least twenty-eight consecutive days, and if Parliament is prorogued before the necessary twenty-eight days have elapsed, such regulations shall again be laid on the said Tables as aforesaid within fourteen days after the commencement of its next ensuing ordinary session.

(4) If both Houses of Parliament by resolution passed in the same session (being a session during which such regulations have been laid on the Tables of both Houses of Parliament in terms of sub-section (3)) disapprove of any such regulations or of any provision thereof, such regulations or such provision thereof shall thereafter cease to be of force and effect to the extent to which they are so disapproved, but without prejudice to the validity of anything done in terms of such regulations or of such provision thereof up to the date upon which they so ceased to be of force and effect, or to any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred as at the said date under and by virtue of such regulations or such provision thereof.


Certain classes of persons may be exempted from provisions of this Act.

21. (1) The Governor-General may by proclamation in the Gazette exclude, for a specified or unspecified period, from the provisions of this Act or exempt, for a specified or unspecified period and either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as may be prescribed in the proclamation, from any specified provisions thereof—

(a) persons employed in the Union in the service of a foreign government (other than persons engaged locally);

(b) members of any military, naval or air force of the Union or any other government;

(c) officers and crews of ships or aircraft calling temporarily at Union ports;

(d) any other class of persons, or persons or class of persons ordinarily resident in any specified area, the generality of the provisions of this paragraph not being limited by the provisions of the preceding paragraphs,

and may in like manner amend or withdraw any such proclamation.

(2) Paragraph (d) of sub-section (1) shall not be construed as authorizing the Governor-General to exclude from the provisions of this Act persons whose names were at any time after the fixed date required under this Act to be included in the register, or to exempt from any of the provisions of this Act any persons who were at any time after the date fixed in terms of section fourteen subject to those provisions.

(3) An immigration officer may, subject to the directions of the Minister and for such period of not exceeding six months as he may deem fit, exempt from those provisions of this Act which relate to the production of identity cards, any person who enters the Union for a temporary purpose.

(4) The Director may extend any period for which an exemption has been granted under sub-section (3) by such further period or periods as he may deem fit.

(5) An immigration officer shall forthwith advise the Director of every exemption granted by him in terms of sub-section (3) and every such exemption and every extension of such exemption under sub-section (4) shall be noted by the immigration officer or the Director, as the case may be, on the passport of the person concerned.

(6) The provisions of this Act relating to the issue of identity cards shall not, during the period of an exemption granted under sub-section (3) or during an extension of such period under sub-section (4), apply in respect of the person to whom the exemption relates.


Extension of application of Act.

22. The Governor-General may, after consultation with the Executive Committee of the territory of South-West Africa, by proclamation in the Gazette and subject to such conditions, modifications and exceptions as may be prescribed in the proclamation, apply the provisions of this Act to the said territory.


Amendment of section 1 of Act 38 of 1914.

23. The following sub-section is hereby substituted for sub-section (3) of section one of the Statistics Act, 1914:

“(3) (a) There shall be established a statistical council consisting of the Director of Census, who shall be chairman, and the Assistant-Director of Census, who shall be vice-chairman, and not less than six and not more than ten other persons who shall be appointed by the Governor-General and shall hold office during pleasure.

(b) The council shall advise the Minister in regard to any matter connected with this Act or the Population Registration Act, 1950, and may from time to time make or cause to be made by a person authorized thereto by the Council such inspections of the population register compiled and maintained under the last-mentioned Act as it may deem fit, and shall report any irregularity in the compilation or maintenance thereof to the Minister.

(c) The council shall meet at least once in every year upon written notice of the chairman.

(d) A report on the activities of the council shall be submitted to the Minister annually and the Minister shall lay that report on the Tables of both Houses of Parliament within thirty days after receipt thereof by him if Parliament be then in ordinary session, or, if Parliament be not then in ordinary session, within thirty days after the commencement of its next ensuing ordinary session.”


Short title.

24. This Act shall be called the Population Registration Act, 1950.

This work is in the public domain because it was created and first published in South Africa and it is an official text of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or an official translation of such a text.

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