chapter  8
18 Pages

The 'New' Vigilantism in Post-April 1994 South Africa: Searching for Explanations

Vigilantism1 in post-1994 South Africa remains a highly emotional and contentious issue not only politically but also on a community and policing level. In the post1994 era there have been subtle changes from the pre-1994 forms of vigilantism. Vigilante activity in the period before 1990 has largely been explained in terms of political motivations (liberation and struggle ideology or the ‘conservative’ response of covert state supported actions by surrogates or proxy agent provocateurs). In the mid-1980s, individuals and groups often took the law into their own hands in what were perceived to be ‘legitimate’ attacks on agents and structures of the apartheid state. Alternatively, they were seen as pre-emptive, retaliatory or revenge responses to those attacks by other elements and groupings politically opposed to the politics o f ‘struggle’ in the townships (Coleman, 1998; Du Toit and Gagiano, 1993).