The Anatomy of a South African Genocide: The extermination of the Cape San peoples


Mohamed Adhikari
University of Cape Town


During the 18th and 19th centuries, Dutch-speaking pastoralists who infiltrated the Cape interior dispossessed its aboriginal inhabitants and damaged the environment with their destructive farming and hunting practices. In response to indigenous resistance, colonists formed armed, mounted militia units known as commandos with the express purpose of destroying San bands. Pervasive settler violence ensured the virtual extinction of the Cape San peoples. In 1998 David Kruiper, the leader of the ≠Khomani San who today live in the Kalahari Desert, lamented ‘… we have been made into nothing’. His comment applies to the fate of all the hunter-gatherer societies of the Cape Colony who were destroyed by the impact of European colonialism.


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Cover image showing San paintings.



20 June 2022


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