Carrying Apartheid’s book

All black people were required to carry a dompas

All black people were required to carry a dompas

Published Mar 7, 2015


Cape Town - The Pass Laws Act of 1952 required black South Africans over the age of 16 to carry a pass book, known as a dompas, everywhere and at all times.

The dompas was similar to a passport, but it contained additional information like the person’s name, fingerprints, photograph, personal details of employment, permission from the government to be in a particular part of the country, qualifications to work or seek work in the area, and an employer’s reports on worker performance and behaviour.

If an employer was unhappy with a worker, they could refuse to endorse the book, jeopardising the person’s “right” to be in a certain area.

Apartheid officials had the power to evict workers if they did not have their dompas, no questions asked.

This was known as “endorsing out” and could be carried out at any time, for any reason.

The family of the worker who was endorsed out also suffered as they were also evicted and exiled to a bantustan.

If you forgot your dompas, lost it or if it was stolen, you could be thrown in jail.

Each year, over 250 000 blacks were arrested for offenses under the Pass Laws.

The despised system was only abolished on November 13, 1986.

Daily Voice

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