The ethnic conflict in Mangaung at Bloemfontein in 1957
Le Roux, Charl
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The conflict in Mangaung on 27 October 1957 was not the first of its kind in the township. Ethnic clashes had been reported at two previous occasions. These clashes were summarily ascribed to ethnic animosities between the Basuto and factions of the Nguni people, more in particular the Bhaca and the Zulu, being migrant workers. In fact, the Mangaung conflict, like the Sotho conflicts on South African mines, had nothing to do with any traditional history of hostility between two or more ethnicities, nor with the misuse of liquor or the company of immoral women, but had a very great deal to do with the tensions arising between exceptionally oppressed workers and relatively favoured ones within the local industrial environment. The city councillors and municipal officials, amidst limited working opportunities, deliberately manipulated the Basuto and Nguni factions on the basis of job differentiation, which amounted to the oppression of these ethnic factions. Circumstances of secondary importance contributing to the Mangaung conflict were the dislocated social life of the Nguni and Basuto factions and lack of proper accommodation and cooking and recreational facilities. Ostensibly the local authorities did not realise the serious impact which their unnatural living conditions exercised on their minds that had already been deeply afflicted by the unfair work divisions of their employers.