Apartheid was a social philosophy which enforced racial, social, and economic segregation on the people of South Africa. The term apartheid comes from the Afrikaans word meaning "separation". It was introduced by DF Malan"s Herenigde Nasionale Party (HNP - "Reunited National Party") in 1948 and lasted until the end of FW De Klerk"s government in 1994.
Segregation meant that Whites (or Europeans) were given separate (and usually better) facilities than nonwhites ( Coloureds Indians, and Blacks).
The Population Registration Act No. 30 was passed in 1950 and it defined who belonged to a particular race by physical appearance. People had to be identified and registered from birth as belonging to one of four distinct racial groups: White, Coloured, Bantu (Black African) and other. This was considered to be one of the pillars of apartheid. Identity documents were issued to each person and the Identity Number encoded the race to which they were assigned.
The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act No 49 of 1953 forced segregation in all public amenities, public buildings, and public transport with the aim of eliminating contact between whites and other races. "Europeans Only" and "Non-Europeans Only" signs were put up. The act stated that facilities provided for different races need not be equal.
Seen here are signs in English and Afrikaans, in Wellington railway station, South Africa, enforcing the policy of apartheid or racial segregation in 1955: "Telegraafkantoor Nie-Blankes, Telegraph Office Non-Europeans" and "Telegraafkantoor Slegs Blankes, Telegraph Office Europeans Only". The facilities were segregated and people had to use the facility assigned to their racial division.
A sign on a Cape Town beach in 1979 reserves it for white people only: "WHITE PERSONS ONLY This beach and the amenities thereof have been reserved for white persons only. By order Provincial Secretary." Non-whites would not be allowed to use the beach or its facilities. The signs are posted in English and Afrikaans. "Net Blankes."