“Whites Only” benches – a bizarre era

Apartheid benches outside the High Court
I captured today's photo at the doors of the Cape High Court in Queen Victoria Street, during yesterday's Worldwide Photo Walk. The plaque next to these two benches reads:

"In the 1960s a room in this building was the scene of hearings of the most bizarre and humiliating kind as ordinary people came before an appeal panel to argue about what 'race' they should be labelled. Between 1950 and 1991 apartheid's Population Registration Act classified every South African as belonging to one of at least seven 'races' - and accordingly granted or denied citizenship rights on a sliding scale from 'White' (full rights) to 'Bantu' (with the fewest). The classification was subjective, and families were split apart when paler or darker skinned children or parents - or those with curlier hair, or different features - were placed in separate categories."
- The Times

Don't you think the word "bizarre" describes this practice fairly accurately?

9 thoughts on ““Whites Only” benches – a bizarre era

  1. Guinivea

    So strange that white people were treated as supreme when all people are equal, thankfully that time is over. Thanks for the photo though…I have never seen these benches.

  2. Emm

    That is chilling. I wouldn’t have expected to see something like that outside of the Apartheid museum. I am glad it is there, to remind us how horrifying our past was.

  3. Paul

    Post author

    Thanks for your comments. As Firefly implied, I’ve also always wondered how people could have thought that it was okay. Perhaps for much of the white populate it was like the old anecdote about boiling a frog.

  4. Steve

    Paul, yes everybody had moved away when I saw the guy walking up to the bench, talked him into sitting down and posing, worked well
    Little bit “miffed” to see Michelle post her black and white onto the Kelby site, there was a promise that because I had found him and asked him to pose,only my pics could be used.
    He promised to make contact and get his pictures

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