n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Linking poverty and violence : the South African scenario

Volume 13, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


In present-day South Africa we are daily confronted with individual or group scenes of violence in townships and 'shanty-towns' where people live in poverty. Frequently, it involves people clamouring for the redemption of the promises made to them by politicians prior to the first democratic election in 1994 - promises of a wonderful 'new South Africa' that would meet their needs. In reality, their common experience is of a housing shortage, poor education, few jobs and very little prospect of alleviating their profound poverty. It seems as if in our country violence has become the power of the powerless.

It would, of course, be entirely misleading to give the impression that violence is a phenomenon created by the 'New South Africa', for under the previous government we experienced violence on an enormous scale, in particular state-sponsored violence, and structural violence. But it was not accompanied with promises that this would become better. At present it is this gap between the 'promised land' and harsh reality that to a large extent seems to fuel the violence.

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