In partnership with the Western Cape branch of Khulumani Support Group, the national apartheid-era victims’ group, the CSVR is conducting community-based participatory research on the relationship of socioeconomic exclusion to past and present violence.

Although South Africa is acknowledged as one of the most unequal as well as most violent societies in the world, studies on violence in the country tend to focus on policing issues, psychosocial roots of violence and the ‘culture of violence,’ sidelining socioeconomic drivers of violence. While the relationship of inequality and poverty to violence has been examined in other contexts, dedicated research on the subject has been limited in South Africa. This project seeks to fill the gap through participatory research conducted by active citizens facing the challenges posed by exclusion and violence in marginalised communities daily.

Through a combination of research, knowledge generation and targeted trainings, the project provides space and support for Khulumani Western Cape members to articulate an analysis of the links between socioeconomic exclusion and violence in their communities, highlight the continuities between apartheid-era and present-day exclusion and violence, identify existing and new avenues for dealing with key triggers and deeper roots of violence, and formulate targeted proposals for addressing the problem that bolster the group’s financial autonomy and strengthen its activism for post-transition redress and social justice.

The project is being collaboratively designed and implemented by researchers from the CSVR and Khulumani Western Cape. The research is taking place in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha. The project’s planning and capacity-building activities include members from other areas of Cape Town as well as the towns of Paarl, Worcester and Beaufort West. Along with providing Khulumani Western Cape members with concrete outcomes to take forward in their own projects, this work feeds into the CSVR’s ongoing work of promoting holistic and victim-centred transitional justice on the continent, particularly by demonstrating the harms of not addressing socioeconomic exclusion in national processes aimed at dealing with past abuses.