Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

Service delivery in Belhar? Leadership challenges between the real and the ideal

Ian A. Nell
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 2 | a1936 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v69i2.1936 | © 2013 Ian A. Nell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 February 2013 | Published: 14 June 2013

About the author(s)

Ian A. Nell, Department of Practical Theology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa


In the discipline of practical theology, one finds a long history of linking the name of the field to diaconiology, in which you find the Greek word diaconia, directly translated as ‘service’. For good and scientific reasons, the field changed its name to practical theology in some Faculties of Theology but that does not take away the fact that this field of research is still very much engaged in the broad area of ‘service of all kinds’. The purpose of this article was to do a descriptive investigation into the problems and challenges of service delivery in the suburb of Belhar (Cape Town), specifically looking at the role of leadership during a (new) time of struggle. As part of the normative task, the researcher took a closer look at the Belhar Confession as a prophetic stance in this regard. In an ironic twist, we see in these events the struggle between the real and the ideal that is typical of many places in the country facing problems with service delivery.


diakonia; service; service delivery; Belhar


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