Vigilante Terror: ‘Deep anger and resentment will spark mob justice’

2013-11-10 14:00

The people who are killed by mobs are the victims of “deep anger and resentment”.

They are the perfect scapegoats for communities battling poverty and inequality, says Dr Kelly Gillespie, a senior lecturer in the department of anthropology at Wits University.

“This isn’t a horrific individual act of brutal revenge killing or ‘black-on-black violence’, or a lack of education,” she says.

Gillespie has spent time researching what led residents to kill 14 men in “mob justice” incidents last year.

She says people around South Africa are deeply angry and resentful, particularly those in townships. This stems from a long history of dispossession, disenfranchisement and abandonment.

“A lot of what happens in ‘mob justice’ is that the deep anger and resentment gets launched on to the easiest targets, which are usually lesbians, criminals, foreigners and ‘witches’.

“They all share the status of being outsiders and people clearly pin their problems and anger on the outsiders. It’s an attempt to establish moral order in conditions of dispossession and a lack of dignity.”

Gillespie says the people in these mobs usually ask why they are continuously made to feel the burden of inequality – why don’t they have access to toilets, sage neighbourhoods or the kind of support they need to live decent, dignified lives?

She says the excessive violence of mob attacks are “an implicit critique of the conditions in which people are living”.

Instead of directing this at the state, apartheid history or private firms, people find easy targets.

“It’s an outlet of frustrations in such a way that it makes people feel like they are doing something, they are actually taking things into their own hands and making things better.

“But they are actually compounding the problem.

“The conditions of township life have to fundamentally change before townships stop being such violent places.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.