The homelands system – the Bantustans – along with the pass laws and Bantu Education lay at the heart of the apartheid system. Black people were grouped into small pockets of land according to ethnic origin and language.
They were denied South African citizenship and were considered illegal in South Africa unless they had a work permit and carried a pass book. A central feature of the homelands policy was forced removals. Millions of people were forcibly taken from their homes, as they fell into areas now designated as ‘white’, and dumped in areas far from urban centres and places of work.