Facilitating or hindering social cohesion? The impact of the Community Work Programme in selected South African townships


  • Malose Langa Wits University
  • Themba Masuku Centre for the study of violence and reconciliation
  • David Bruce Centre for the study of violence and reconciliation
  • Hugo van der Merwe Centre for the study of violence and reconciliation




Community Work Programme, violence prevention, social cohesion, local elites.


In recent years, the term “social cohesion” has become an important concept in post-apartheid South Africa.[i] In this paper, we discuss the potential  of the Community Work Programme (CWP) as a violence-prevention project based on a study conducted[ii] in six communities, namely Ivory Park, Orange Farm and Kagiso (situated in Gauteng Province), Bokfontein (North West Province), Grabouw and Mannenberg (Western Cape). In this paper, we discuss the potential of CWP in facilitating social cohesion to prevent violence in communities. The CWP work includes community violence-prevention programmes against gangsterism, drug abuse, domestic violence and xenophobic violence. Ordinarily many of these violence prevention projects would not have been possible if it was not for the CWP. However, this paper shows that that the impact of the CWP is not always positive. In some of the six communities, the CWP was a source of racial or interpersonal conflicts, power struggles amongst the local elites for the control of the CWP, xenophobic or ethnic divisions. This paper provides all this analysis to show tensions and contradictions of the CWP in facilitating and hindering social cohesion in communities. It is recommended in conclusion that, if not implemented well, the CWP may be a source of conflict rather than social cohesion. It needs to be implemented in a reliable and stable way if it is to assist in reducing violence in communities.

[i] Ingrid Palmary, Reflections on social cohesion in contemporary South Africa, Psychology in Society (forthcoming)

[ii] This study was conducted by researchers at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)


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