FRIDAY BRIEFING | Vigilante violence: Little police accountability, high crime and frustration

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Friday Briefing

Mob justice: Broken trust, little police accountability, and community anger and frustration

Reading reports of what transpired earlier this month in Zandspruit, it is hard to imagine what went through residents' minds when they decided to take matters into their own hands. 

Two hundred Zandspruit residents, fed up with the lack of police action, decided to hold their own kangaroo court. Regardless of the pleas of their nine victims - the community found them guilty and meted out their own punishment.

The nine were beaten and rocks were thrown at them. At least one was necklaced, but all of them were set alight after being doused in paraffin and petrol. Eight of the victims would not survive the ordeal, while one is still fighting for his life in hospital. 

In this week's Friday Briefing, we analyse what makes a community erupt into so much anger?

The ISS' Lizette Lancaster examines the police's blind spots and why this incident happened. Author Ziyanda Stuurman, who has written a soon-to-be released book looking into policing in South Africa, concurs with Lancaster, and writes about the impact of the community's lack of trust in police officers in the area. 

The University of Johannesburg's Ropafadzo Maphosa writes the justice system in South Africa has not always represented all citizens, which could be one of the reasons why we have seen a rise in vigilantism.

Mphumeleli Ngidi, a history lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, takes a look back at the country's past to give us a brief overview of mob justice from the apartheid era until now. 

Finally, theology professor at Unisa Elijah Baloyi discusses how the church could get involved to find a solution. 


Vanessa Banton 

Opinions editor

Vigilantism: A symptom of a violent underserviced society

With little police accountability, murder and many types of robberies have been increasing over the past few years, leading to a growth in vigilantism. Lizette Lancaster analyses the dangers of this phenomenon.

Zandspruit murders: A community with little faith in the police

A loss of confidence in the police to do their jobs - to investigate crime and arrest perpetrators - and a loss of confidence in the courts to hold those found guilty of crime accountable, leads to deadly consequences, writes Ziyanda Stuurman.

'Mob justice': A reflection of a deteriorating justice system

While vigilante justice is deplorable, addressing economic and social disparities is the first step towards averting it, writes Ropafadzo Maphosa.

Vigilante violence: It has always been around

Mphumeleli Ngidi takes a look at the history of vigilante violence in South Africa.

Vigilantism has deep roots in SA but the Covid-19 pandemic is not helping

Elijah Baloyi advocates for more involvement from three stakeholders in an attempt to eradicate vigilantism in communities.

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