Welcome as South Africa's decision to scrap its apartheid land and housing laws may be, mere repeal of noxious laws does not compensate for years of dispossession. Millions of blacks were deprived of their homes and forcibly moved to segregated locations in the past four decades. Many were denied home ownership. There will have to be some system of reparation and redress before the country can really become a non-racial democracy.
The situation in South Africa today can be compared, perhaps fancifully, with the demolition of the Berlin Wall. While enormous barriers are being removed, the problems caused by these barriers remain. It will take vision and courage for the present white minority government and the disenfranchised black majority to correct the economic as well as the social and political evils of apartheid without triggering serious internal turmoil.
President Frederik W. de Klerk's submission to parliament of proposals to repeal the Land Acts of 1913 and 1936, the Group Areas Act of 1966 and the Black Communities Development Act of 1984 marks the second of three major steps to eliminate apartheid from the books. A year ago, segregation in public accommodations was removed. Still to be submitted is the promised repeal of the Population Registration Act, which classifies each new-born by race and thereby imposes harsh restrictions on all non-whites -- not only blacks but Indians and so-called "coloreds" of mixed blood.