South African National Census of 2001

The National Census of 2001 was the 2nd comprehensive national census of the Republic of South Africa, or Post-Apartheid South Africa. It undertook to enumerate every person present in South Africa on the census night between 9–10 October 2001 at a cost of.
It was organised and planned by Statistics South Africa in terms of the Statistics Act from the beginning of 1999, under the commission of the Statistician-General Pali Lehohla. The enumeration primarily took place from 10 to 31 October 2001 and the results were published in 2003.


This was the first South African census to use a Geographic Information System to determine the Enumeration Areas. Traditionally, the areas were created using analogue and sketch maps. This geographic database was created out of several data sets acquired from government departments and private sector companies. It included topographic maps, cadastral data, administrative boundaries, aerial photography, satellite imagery and videography. Each area was classified according to its location as one of four types:
The country was divided into approximately 80,000 manageable "pockets of land" with an average of 150 living spaces in each Enumeration Area. The intention was that each area could be handled by a single enumerator, to allow every household in the country to be visited within the timeframe provided.
The census questionnaire was developed and tested on a computer-based census administration system at the end of 2000. The main pilot for the census was conducted in February and March 2001, all aspects of enumeration were tested. It resulted in many revisions of both processes and management methods. The 1996 census questionnaire was used as a basis, with some key differences in labour related questions. Three questionaries were printed:

Data Processing

As the 2001 Census was paper-based, an enormous amount of data needed to be converted to a digital format. The task of data processing consists of primarily four parts: data capture, post-data capture, coding and product generation.
Over 1000 temporary staff members were employed by Statistics South Africa to assist in the process. These employees worked in shifts, 7 days a week for almost 18 months. In total, 10 249 185 questionnaires were received which resulted in the generation of over 117 million images once scanned.

Post-enumeration Survey (PES)


The census population results revealed people live in a area, that is.


RankFirst language1996 Census2001 CensusChangePercent
1 IsiZulu 14.86%
2 IsiXhosa 9.42%
3 Afrikaans 2.91%
4 Sepedi 12.98%
5 Setswana 10.75%
6 English 6.05%
7 Sesotho 13.54%
8 Xitsonga 12.60%
9 SiSwati 16.42%
10 Tshivenda 15.31%
11 IsiNdebele 19.23%
12 Other 4.93%

RankGender1996 Census2001 CensusChangePercent
1 Female 10.45%
2 Male 9.34%