The brief introductory chapter lays out the questions for the book, connects vigilantism to broad questions about democratic state formation, and suggests the power of understanding vigilantism in South Africa as a means to understanding politics in emerging democracies generally. It shows how existing explanations are inadequate for understanding vigilantism in varying parts of South Africa. The chapter also sets up the narrative that follows in subsequent chapters, which tracks vigilante violence from the late apartheid era, through the early democratic state’s attempts to monopolize violence, citizens’ resistance to these efforts, and ultimately to the state’s mimicking of vigilantism today.
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