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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

The People’s Justice

The People’s Justice

Historical Antecedents of Contemporary Vigilantism

(p.38) Chapter 2 The People’s Justice
Contradictions of Democracy

Nicholas Rush Smith

Oxford University Press

What are the historical antecedents of post-apartheid vigilantism? Much literature explains contemporary South African vigilantism as a legacy of counterrevolutionary attempts to suppress youthful insurgents under apartheid. By contrast, this chapter argues that there is an important legacy from revolutionary vigilantism. Based on archival and interview data on one of the Durban area’s bloodiest conflicts—the war between the politically radical Comrades and the amaSinyora youth gang in KwaMashu—the chapter shows revolutionary vigilantism was based on contradictory social ties among young men that broke down amid competition for the future of the South African state. The chapter argues such revolutionary vigilantism has had lasting effects on the networks and practices through which vigilantism is practiced today.

Keywords:   apartheid, revolution, counterrevolution, KwaMashu, vigilantism, amaSinyora, Comrades

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