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The new pass laws

Piet ‘Promises’ Koornhof has a big new plan. He wants to make new pass laws. The new pass laws will keep millions of people in the homelands.

Koornhof’s plans are not law yet. He put his plans into a bill. Parliament must talk about the bill before they make a new law. Some people say that Parliament will make the new laws before 1984.

“The new laws will build walls around the cities,” says Sheena Duncan from the Black Sash. “The new laws will trap people in the homelands. People in the home­lands have no food or jobs. They will die from hunger.”

People all over South Africa are angry about Koornhof’s plans. Trade unions, churches, sport organizations, youth organizations and community groups say they will fight the new laws. The Black Sash says every black person must understand the new laws. Then they will fight to stop the new laws.

What will happen to people under the new pass laws?


Every year thousands of people from the homelands come to the towns. They come to find work. These people need permits to find work in the towns. But many people come to the towns without permits. The new law will make sure people can’t stay in towns without permits .

  • The new law will not let people stay overnight in the towns or the townships in the white areas. They can’t stay from 10 o’clock at night until 5 o’clock in the morning. Only people with permits can stay in towns overnight .

  • People without permits will get arrested. They will get arrested in the street or in a house .

  • People without permits will get very big fines. They will get fined R500. Or they will go to jail for six months. People who let other people stay in their house without a permit will get the same punishment. And they will also get fined an extra R20 a day until the person leaves.

So people from the homelands can still visit the towns during the day. They must take their passport or passbook with them. But these people can’t look for jobs without a permit. They must leave town before 10 o’clock at night. And people without permits will not get help from other people because of the big fines.


Under the new law, people who live in towns will have less rights. Under the new law, only a new group of people can stay in the towns.

These people will be called Permanent Urban Residents (PURs). The PURs can stay in the towns. People who aren’t PURs cannot stay in the towns or the townships next to the towns. If PURs lose their accommodation, they must leave town.

Who will be PURs?

  • People who now have section 10(1)(a) rights or section 10(1)(b) rights will be PURs. (People can get section 1 0(1 )(a) rights if they were born in a town and lived in the town all their life. People can get section 1 0( 1 )(b) rights if they were registered with the same employer for 10 years. Or if they have lived in town for 15 years with a permit) .


  • Black South Africans who have lived in a town for 10 years with a permit can ask to be a PUR. Under the new law people who come from ‘independent’ homelands can never become PURs .

  • People born in town will only become PURs if both their parents were PURs. If your mother is a PUR and your father is a contract worker, you will not be a PUR -even if you were born in town.

  • The government says they will not let contract or migrant workers become PURs.


Under the new law, life won’t change very much for farm workers. People on white farms will still need permits to stay there. If a farmer does not need a worker, the worker and the worker’s family must leave the farm.


Many people can’t find places to stay in the towns. In Cape Town, people have built houses on open land. These people live at places like Nyanga and Cross­roads. These people are called squatters. Under the new law, the police can move these people. The government can move these people to any place. These people can’t ask the courts to help them.

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