Timeline: Slavery in the Cape Colony

Many South Africans are the descendants of slaves brought to the Cape Colony from 1653 until 1822.

1652: Refreshment station established at the Cape, in April, by The Dutch East India Company, based in Amsterdam, to provide for its ships on their voyage to the East. In May the commander, Jan van Riebeeck, requests slave labour.

1653: Abraham van Batavia, the first slave, arrives.

1654: A slaving voyage undertaken from the Cape via Mauritius to Madagascar.

1658: Farms granted to Dutch free burghers (ex-Company soldiers). Secret journey into Dahomey (Benin) brings 228 slaves. Portugese slaver with 500 Angolan slaves captured by the Dutch; 174 landed at the Cape.

1687: Free burghers petition for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1700: Government directive restricting male slaves being brought from the East.

1717: Dutch East India Company ends assisted immigration from Europe.

1719: Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1720: France occupies Mauritius.

1722: Slaving post established at Maputo (Lourenco Marques) by Dutch.

1732: Maputo slave post abandoned due to mutiny.

1745-46: Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1753: Governor Rijk Tulbagh codifies slave law.

1767: Abolition of importation of male slaves from Asia.

1779: Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1784: Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise. Government directive abolishing the importation of male slaves from Asia repeated.

1787: Government directive abolishing the importation of male slaves from Asia repeated again.

1791: Slave trade opened to free enterprise.

1795: British take over the Cape Colony. Torture abolished.

1802: The Dutch regain control of the Cape.

1806: Britain occupies the Cape again.

1807: Britain passes the Abolition of Slave Trade Act.

1808: Britain enforces the Abolition of Slave Trade Act, ending the external slave trade. Slaves can now be traded only within the colony.

1813: Fiscal Dennyson codifies the Cape Slave Law.

1822: Last slaves imported, illegally.

1825: Royal Commission of Enquiry at the Cape investigates Cape slavery.

1826: Guardian of Slaves appointed. Revolt by Cape slave owners.

1828: Lodge (Company) slaves and Khoi slaves emancipated.

1830: Slave owners have to start keeping a record of punishments.

1833: Emancipation Decree issued in London.

1834: Slavery abolished. Slaves become "apprentices" for four years.

1838: End of slave "apprenticeship".