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South Africa’s internal displacement: the dynamics of forced removals in South Africa.

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Internal displacement in South Africa poses a major concern and it created many anomalies because it happens and continue happening through force removals. Though the harshest phase was experienced during the apartheid era, internal displacement reared its ugly face during Imfecane/Lifaqane era in South Africa. During Imfecane/Lifaqane era Africans were fighting for the turf. It was a kill or be killed era. The Zulus through their formidable impi under King Shaka were the main ‘perpetrators’ in sending other ethnic groups packing to find a place to live away from their previous dwellings. The Nguni ethnic group managed to secure the eastern part of the country, the Tsonga group settled on the north, the Sotho group settled the on the hinterland of the country, while the Khoi and the Sans secure the west and the north coast of the country. Then comes the colonisation time. Under colonial times protectorates were formed, which are Bechuanaland (Botwana), Basotholand (Lesotho) and Swaziland (eSwatini). They asked for protection from Shaka so that they are not driven away any further, until they were given their independence by Britain in 1965. Under both colonial and apartheid government there were rules that were laid down in order to enforce displacement as well as control the indigenous people. The colonial government use the Natives Land Act 27 of 1913 to support its internal displacement process on the Africans/Natives or black people. While the apartheid government applied the Group Areas Act no. 41 of 1950 (GAA) to support its segregation policy as well as removing Africans as they like from their place of birth. What is most appalling is that the apartheid legacy still persists under the democratic dispensation. Internal displacement has caused or is responsible for all dehumanising experiences to the indigenous people in South Africa including human rights violations, inequality, land dispossession, and many more. Hence, it is highly commendable of the United Nations to lay down rules such as the Guiding Principles to be followed by the countries in order to protect the internally displaced people who are the victims of the internal displacement.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.