"the white on one side, the black on the other, according to the custom"
Whites Only sign in English and Afrikaans
Public DomainWhites Only sign in English and Afrikaans - Credit: Kerri

For much of the 20th century, black and white South Africans were kept separate as much as possible.  Long before apartheid became government policy, public buildings would commonly have two entrances – one for white people, or ‘Europeans’ and the other for black people. 

The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, No 49 of 1953, provided for entirely separate public facilities for black and white people.  This included parks, buses, post offices, and public toilets.  Facilities for black South Africans were invariably scarcer and of poorer quality than those provided for their white counterparts.  Where black and white people had to be in the same public space, the use of separate entrances was legally enforceable under the Act.

Segregated entrances
Public DomainSegregated entrances - Credit: Kerri