chapter  2
10 Pages

Legality, Legitimacy and the Politics of Informalism

Vigilantism in post-1994 South Africa remains a highly emotional and contentious issue not only politically but also on a community and policing level. Vigilante acts in South Africa are certainly not straightforward or simple but rather complex social reactions to varying and different situations. One of the complicating factors in examining and assessing vigilante activity in South Africa has been the wide-range of 'types' of incidents. While the people's court system appears to have an orderly and structured component to it, much of the recent vigilantism in many of the informal settlements has taken the form of spontaneous mob justice. The chapter presents an illustrative case of vigilante groupings in South Africa, People Against Gangs and Drugs (PAGAD) to represent the most complex, as well as the most well organized in militaristic terms. PAGAD concentrates more on urban crime problems, in particular drug dealing and gangsterism.