Race, Marriage & Law: Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act Extended to Coloureds 22 Feb 1968


Bubbles Mpondo and her Afrikaans body- builder boyfriend, Jannie Beetge declared their love for each other publicly in the ’70s, defying apartheid laws prohibiting love and sex between Black & White

The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (no. 55 of 1949) was one of the first pieces of apartheid legislation enacted after the National Party came into power in 1948. The law prohibited marriages between “Europeans and non-Europeans”. This meant that whites could not marry other races.

Shortly thereafter, the Act was followed by the Population Registration and Immorality Acts. The Population Registration Act required all South Africans to register under four officially defined racial groups. The Immorality Act prohibited sex between people of different races.

But the law didnt prohibit other races from entering into marriages. And so, Coloureds could marry Africans, and Indians could marry Coloureds and so forth.

Having failed to stop Whites from finding love beyond the colour line, the apartheid government passed the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Amendment Bill on 22 February 1968, prohibiting marriage between Whites and Coloureds. 

Writing in www.thoughtco.com, Angela Thomsell explains why the Mixed Marriages Act (1949) didnt prohibit all interracial marriages?

The primary fear driving the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act was that poor, working-class white women were marrying people of color. In actual fact, very few were. In the years before the act, only roughly 0.2-0.3 percent of marriages by Europeans were to people of color, and that number was declining. In 1925 it had been 0.8 percent, but by 1930 it was 0.4 percent, and by 1946, 0.2 percent.

The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act was designed to ‘protect’ white political and social dominance by preventing a handful of people from blurring the line between white society and everyone else in South Africa. It also showed that the National Party was going to fulfill its promises to protect the white race, unlike its political rival, the United Party, which many thought had been too lax on that issue.

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