Contradictions of democracy: vigilantism and rights in post-apartheid South Africa (2019)
in: Oxford studies in culture and politics
Despite being one of the world's most vibrant democracies, vigilantism is regularly practiced in South Africa. In any given year, police estimate between 5 and 10 percent of the country's murders result from vigilante violence. Vigilantism is also frequent in other democracies across Latin America, Asia, and Africa. High rates of vigilantism are particularly puzzling in South Africa, though, given that it underwent a celebrated transition to democracy, has a lauded constitution, and enacted massive reforms of the state's legal institutions following democratization. 'Contradictions of Democracy' asks why vigilantism is prevalent in South Africa, asks what South Africa reveals about vigilantism in other emerging democracies, and uses vigilantism to explore contradictions of democratic state formation generally.