Most racial interaction in South Africa takes place at work, in shops or places of study, according to the SA Reconciliation Barometer 2015 (SARB2015) released on Tuesday.
We socialise least at homes, communal gatherings, private socials and at church.
“Legislation is no longer required to sustain apartheid. It has evolved in ways that allow it to sustain itself up to the present day,” the SARB2015 research paper said.
Researcher Rajen Govender explained that, although South Africans wanted reconciliation, it was the apartheid geography of cities and living areas, that may be keeping us apart.
A great effort had been made to make workplaces more integrated and racially representative through measures like the Employment Equity Act and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment.
But, in more intimate “non-legislated” spaces, such as the privacy of our own homes, an average of 52% of respondents said there was no racial interaction.
Of social gatherings, 50.3% of respondents said there was no racial interaction.
“These findings underscore the continued segregated nature of the private lives of South Africans,” the report stated.
High levels of distrust
The study found that coloured people recorded the lowest levels of interaction for five out of six categories, but white and Indian respondents recorded the highest frequency of interaction in three of the categories.
Explaining the link between economic situations and levels of racial interaction, researcher found that South Africans in the lower LSM category of 1 to 5 – people who had the least material security – showed the lowest levels of racial interaction. People in the highest LSM band showed higher racial interaction in their private lives.
Further questioning showed that although many South Africans were feeling heightened levels of social polarisation, a majority wanted more contact.
But communities still needed to build up trust, after answers revealed that an overall 67.3% of respondents said they had little or no trust in other racial groups. Black respondents showed the highest level of distrust (68.9%), compared with 58.6% of white respondents.
When asked which group they associated with most strongly, 31.6% (the majority) said people “in the same language group”.
The “same racial group” made up 23.7% of the answers, and 13.4% said they hung out with people in the same economic class.
Only 5.2% based their interactions on being in the same political party, and 12.7% chose people with a South African identity. A small number, at 4.5%, said they associated most strongly with “none”.
The research provided hope, after 71% of respondents said they would want a united South Africa and, 64.6% felt this was possible. News24