It is perhaps a misnomer to speak of the "failure" of the Free burgher system, as it was for many years quite successful. The Free burghers were Dutch immigrants to South Africa who at first were restricted to supplying food and supplies to ships from the Dutch East India Company, also known as the VOC or Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie. The company at first prohibited interaction with the native peoples of the area known as the Khoi khoi. A shortage of supplies, etc. caused this restriction to be lifted and free burghers (as those released from the restriction were called) soon established a thriving agricultural business which was in part based on the enslavement of the local people. Strict Dutch Calvinists, the free burghers interpreted their success as a sign that God had approved of and blessed their occupation of the territory.
Their occupation of the territory lasted until the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815 at which time Great Britain took control of the Cape of South Africa. The Free burghers, now known as Afrikaners(Africans) or Boers (farmers,) resented British rule, particularly the abolition of slavery in 1833. They then began moving inland in the Great Trek. Those who participated were known as voortrekkers, (Dutch for "pioneers.") They easily overcame native people with the aid of firearms which again they interpreted as a sign of God's favor toward them. They established a number of free republics which flourished until the discovery of gold and diamonds brought in more British. The end result was the Boer war, which culminated in 1902 with the establishment of the Union of South Africa, a British colony. Thus the free burgher system was successful for almost 350 years.