South Africa Historical Timeline

South Africa to the end of Apartheid (1652 – 1993)

1652
Jan van Riebeeck founds the Cape Colony at Table Bay.

1852
The British take control of Cape Colony.

1879
The British defeat the Zulus in Natal.

1889 – 1902
Boers rebel against the British, sparking the first Anglo-Boer War. Conflict ends with a negotiated peace.

Transvaal is restored as a republic.

1910
Formation of Union of South Africa by former British colonies of the Cape and Natal, and the Boer republics of Transvaal, and Orange Free State.

1912
Native National Congress founded, later renamed the African National Congress (ANC).

1913
Native Land Act.

1934
The Union of South Africa parliament declares the country to be “a sovereign independent state.”

1948
National Party/Beginning of Apartheid.

1950
Population classified by race. Group Areas Act passed to segregate blacks and whites. Communist Party banned. ANC responds with campaign of civil disobedience led by Nelson Mandela.

1951
Bantu Authority Act.

1952
Defiance Campaign.

1953
Bantu Education Act.

1955
Freedom Charter.

1960
Sharpeville Massacare. ANC banned.

1963
Rivonia Treason Trial. Nelson Mandela and 10 others are imprisoned.

1970
The Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act.

1973
Black Labor Union Strike.

1976
Soweto Youth Uprising.

1983
United Democratic Front is formed.

1984
State of Emergency begins.

Township Revolt.

1985
Formation of COSATU (Congress of South Africa Trade Unions).

1989
FW de Klerk replaces PW Botha as president, meets Mandela.

Public facilities desegregated.

Many ANC activists freed.

State of Emergency ends.

1990
Release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners.

1991
Start of multi-party talks.

De Klerk repeals remaining apartheid laws, international sanctions lifted.

Major fighting between ANC and Zulu Inkatha movement.

1993
Agreement on interim constitution.

South Africa Beyond Apartheid (1994 – 2014)

1994
First democratic South African election. Nelson Mandela elected president.

International sanctions lifted.

South Africa takes seat in UN General Assembly.

1996
Truth and Reconciliation Commission begins hearings on human rights crimes committed by former government and liberation movements during apartheid era.

Parliament adopts new constitution.

1999
General elections. Thabo Mbeki becomes president.

2000
ANC prevails in local elections. Recently-formed Democratic Alliance captures nearly a quarter of the votes. The Inkatha Freedom Party wins 9%.

2001
High Court rules that pregnant women must be given AIDS drugs to help prevent transmission of the virus to their babies.

2002
Constitutional court orders government to provide key anti-AIDS drug at all public hospitals.

2003
Walter Sisulu, a key figure in the anti-apartheid struggle, dies aged 91.

Government approves major public health system program to treat HIV/AIDS.

2004
Ruling ANC wins landslide general election. Thabo Mbeki begins a second term as president.

2005
Investigators exhume the first bodies in a Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigation into the fates of hundreds who disappeared during the apartheid era.

President Mbeki sacks his deputy, Jacob Zuma, due to charges of corruption.

2006
Former deputy president Jacob Zuma acquitted of rape charges, reinstated as deputy leader of ANC.

South Africa becomes the first African country to allow same-sex unions.

2007
Cape Town mayor Helen Zille elected leader of main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

Public-sector workers mount largest strike since end of apartheid, causing widespread disruption to schools, hospitals, and public transport for one month.

Zuma elected chairman of the ANC; new corruption charges brought against him.

2008
Violence directed at foreigners causes exodus of thousands of Zimbabweans, Malawians, and Mozambicans.

Corruption case against ANC’s Zuma thrown out.

President Mbeki resigns over allegations that he interfered in Zuma’s corruption case.

ANC deputy leader Kgalema Motlanthe chosen by parliament as president.

First real challenge to the ANC: Congress of the People – or COPE – party made up of ANC defectors led by former defense minister Mosiuoa Lekota.

2009
Jacob Zuma elected president.

Economy goes into recession for first time in 17 years.

Township residents complaining about poor living conditions mount violent protests.

2010
South Africa hosts the World Cup football tournament.

Civil servants stage nation-wide strike.

2011
DA party doubles its share of the vote in local elections since last poll.

President Zuma sacks two ministers accused of corruption.

DA party picks Lindiwe Mazibuko, a black woman, as its parliament leader.

ANC suspends influential youth leader Julius Malema for five years for bringing the party into disrepute.

National Assembly approves information bill accused by critics of posing a threat to freedom of speech.

2012
Police open fire on workers at platinum mine in Marikana, killing 34, injuring 78, and arresting 200.

Julius Malema charged with money laundering.

President Zuma re-elected as leader of the ANC.

2013
Nelson Mandela passes away.

2014
South Africa’s Fifth Democratic Elections.