chapter  4
23 Pages

Translating human rights in the margins: A police–migrant encounter in Johannesburg


Inspector Mphala1 was working as a detective of serious crime at the Johannesburg Central Police Station, the formerly notorious John Vorster Square, the site of many apartheid atrocities.2 He was African, Sotho speaking, in his mid-thirties, and he stood out among his colleagues through his marked city-street smartness. He moved with ease, ownership and belonging in the inner city of post-apartheid Johannesburg – a dynamic but perilous space of opportunity and risk, which attracted migrants from all over South Africa and Africa.