Apartheid was a policy of discrimination on grounds of race including racist laws and policies of total segregation in South Africa that started in 1948. With the National Party's rise to power, shaping a nation and a society of massive repression for black South Africans this ended in 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected President in the first democratic elections. Racist laws allowed the white-owned mining corporations to control workers, keep wages very low, and gain enormous profits from the diamonds and gold that black miners mined from the land. This also limited the political impact of black South Africans by stripping away their right to vote or protest against the unfair work practices. Many South African men worked on the mines and farms in dangerous conditions for salaries that could not suitably feed and put clothes on their families backs. The diamond and gold mines also enforced pass laws, a degrading means of control which required black men to carry documents that identified where they could and couldn't work and live. Black South Africans who lived in the cities lived in appalling conditions with scarce housing, poor health and transport services, and no electricity for many years. Along with the poverty came crime and fear for personal safety. .
The laws and policies also determined where members of each group could live, what jobs they could have, the type of education they could get, and prohibited most social contact between races. Laws were also introduced to limit land ownership and usage by the black majority. The Native Land Act of 1913 set aside less than 10% of South African territory as reservations for black people and denied them from buying land outside these areas. The Group Areas Act enforced strict residential racial segregation. The Apartheid irreparably damaged limitless families, communities, and livelihoods, as the government forcibly relocated blacks to African, Coloured, or Indian "townships" on the fringes of cities and towns.