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In the days of slavery, slaves required passes to travel away from their masters.In 1797 the Landdrost and Heemraden of Swellendam and Graaff-Reinet extended pass laws beyond slaves and ordained that all Khoikhoi (designated as Hottentots) moving about the country for any purpose should carry passes.Most white South Africans, regardless of their own differences, accepted the prevailing pattern.Nevertheless, by 1948 it remained apparent that there were occasional gaps in the social structure, whether legislated or otherwise, concerning the rights and opportunities of nonwhites.It was based on white supremacy and the repression of the black (African, Coloured and Indian) majority of the population for the benefit of the politically and economically dominant group, Afrikaners, and other Whites.Broadly speaking, apartheid was delineated into petty apartheid, which entailed the segregation of public facilities and social events, and grand apartheid, which dictated housing and employment opportunities by race.

Cape legislation that discriminated specifically against black Africans began appearing shortly before 1900.Its traditional bases of support not only took mutually exclusive positions, but found themselves increasingly at odds with each other.Smuts' reluctance to consider South African foreign policy against the mounting tensions of the Cold War also stirred up discontent, while the nationalists promised to purge the state and public service of communist sympathisers.Overcrowding, spiking crime rates, and disillusionment resulted; urban blacks came to support a new generation of leaders influenced by the principles of self-determination and popular freedoms enshrined in such statements as the Atlantic Charter.Whites reacted negatively to the changes, allowing the Herenigde Nasionale Party (or simply National Party) to convince a large segment of the voting bloc that the impotence of the United Party in curtailing the evolving position of nonwhites indicated that the organisation had fallen under the influence of Western liberals.

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