Original Research

Socio-economic factors as causes and remedies for conflict of the San community in Platfontein

H G Beyene
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 10, No 4 | a91 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v10i4.91 | © 2014 H G Beyene | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 February 2016 | Published: 30 December 2014

About the author(s)

H G Beyene, Institute for Dispute Resolution, University of South Africa (Unisa), South Africa

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The study examines the role of socio-economic factors in conflict in the San community of Platfontein. This article’s analysis is based on the primary data collected from individual interviews and focused group discussions conducted in 2013 and 2014. It reveals that socioeconomic factors are both the cause of the conflict and serve as remedies for the conflict. The causes date back to the historical displacement and dispossession of land the community faced. The San community is highly dependent on the limited income of a few veterans while the vast majority is unemployed. The lack of skills and limited command of the dominant language in the community makes them less able to compete for jobs. The community’s economic hardships are increased by the dependency syndrome shown by the adults, who tend towards job-seeking rather than job creation and self-reliance. The economic hardship has become one formidable cause of conflict in the community. A concerted effort is needed to change the attitude of the community so that it becomes entrepreneurial and independent.

One factor that erodes unity within the San community is that the leadership does not work closely with the people – a situation that increases the likelihood of conflict. The efforts undertaken to empower the San community and lift them out of poverty are very limited. The conflict between !Xun and Khwe is attributed to the divisive political rule adopted during the apartheid regime in South Africa. Comparative economic asymmetries between !Xun and Khwe are also causes of conflict. Furthermore, the widening of social distance, along with competition for jobs and housing, increases the tensions and divisions between the !Xun and Khwe communities. The cause of conflict between the San community and other communities is also associated with unemployment and unfair treatment. Socio-economic factors are valuable ingredients in the process of conflict resolution and healing the emotional problems of the conflicting parties.


conflict; emotional healing; Platfontein; resolution process; San; community; socioeconomic factors; !Xun; Khwe


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