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Contradictions of DemocracyVigilantism and Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa$
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Nicholas Rush Smith

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190847180

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190847180.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 10 May 2021

Lawmaking and State-Making as Vigilantism

Lawmaking and State-Making as Vigilantism

(p.191) Chapter 9 Lawmaking and State-Making as Vigilantism
Contradictions of Democracy

Nicholas Rush Smith

Oxford University Press

As apartheid collapsed, South Africa set out on one of the most ambitious police reform projects the world had ever seen. However, in 2008, senior state officials began calling for restrictions on police violence to be lifted with the effect that high rates of police violence have become a primary crime control strategy. This chapter examines this shift in the context of the South African state’s failure to bring the country’s persistent vigilante violence under control. It does so in two ways. First, the chapter examines the contradictory ways in which South African state officials navigate the tensions between advocating for the post-apartheid rights regime while arguing that such rights may inhibit the state’s ability to fight crime. Second, it examines how young men in Durban’s underworld experience the state, showing how rumors of procedureless police violence creates an image for them of the state as a large-scale vigilante organization.

Keywords:   vigilantism, state formation, police violence, Durban, police brutality, Charles Tilly

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