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Contradictions of Democracy – Vigilantism and Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Contradictions of Democracy: Vigilantism and Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Nicholas Rush Smith


Despite being one of the world’s most vibrant democracies, vigilantism is regularly practiced in South Africa. In any given year, police estimate between 5 percent and 10 percent of the country’s murders result from vigilante violence—four to five times the percentage from gang violence. Vigilantism is also frequent in other democracies across Latin America, Asia, and Africa. High rates of vigilantism are particularly puzzling in South Africa, though, given that it underwent a celebrated transition to democracy, has a lauded constitution, and enacted massive reforms of the state’s legal instit ... More

Keywords: vigilantism, rights, state formation, democracy, South Africa

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780190847180
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190847180.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Nicholas Rush Smith, author
Assistant Professor of Political Science, City University of New York City College