National Geographic : 1977 Jun
"The document of my existence," black poet Oswald Joseph Mtshali calls the passbook (above), the instrument that controls the movement of blacks through out the country. All blacks 16 or older must carry the booklets. They must identify the holder's tribal group and place of residence, and also contain em ployment records and monthly signatures of employers or guardians as well as tax receipts. Blacks must pay a poll tax even though they may not vote in national elec tions. A special stamp signifies whether the person has official permission to be in a specified urban area. Without it, he or she is ordered back to a tribal homeland. Lesser irregularities in the documents re sult in fines or jail sentences. Last year 250,000 blacks were arrested for pass law violations.