Full text: Forced labour in Africa

their families and paying their tax. The Medical Officer 
of Health of East London in his last Annual Report speaks 
of the large number of unmarried Native males who enter 
the area looking for work.” Such men, failing at first in 
their search for work, are yet not criminals. Still less are 
those who have paid their tax and left the receipt at home. 
The effect of both the Native Labour Regulation Act 
(1911) and the Masters and Servants Acts is “ to import 
penal consequences into what in common law is a purely 
civil contract.” (Economic Commission’s Report, p. 39.) 
Breach of contract is made a penal offence. 
Breach of the Pass Law is another offence for which 
many Natives are imprisoned. 
Methods such as these of increasing the Native convict 
population are open to criticism as being in themselves 
oppressive. Now, however, that the Government is 
advertising its readiness to supply convict labour to 
farmers who cannot themselves attract voluntary labour, 
the matter assumes a still more sinister aspect. It is 
forced labour in a peculiarly disgraceful form. 
The latest returns, (year 1928-29) show that in the twelve 
months 43,937 Natives were brought before the Courts 
for breaches of the Pass Laws, 59,912, for failure to pay 
tax, 24,660 under the Masters and Servants Acts, and 
18,731 under the Native Labour Regulations. 
The view of moderate Natives on this subject was well 
expressed by Mr. Selope Thema (Reuter, Bloemfontein, 
Dec. 6, 1929) “The European had the right to be in 
South Africa, and had rendered the country signal service 
in bringing the blessings of civilization, but what the 
Natives objected to was that the Europeans exploited the 
Natives and the wealth of the country, while the Native 
was doomed to everlasting servility. . . While the Natives 
were landless, vast tracts of the country were lying waste 
and uncultivated. The farmers, said the speaker in 
referring to the labour question, ran to the Government 
for everything. When there was a drought they . . . 
invoked the assistance of the Government. . . . When

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