Article

Crime and Justice in South Africa

Elrena Van der Spuy

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0041
Crime and Justice in South Africa

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Issues relating to crime and justice have come to occupy a central place in post-apartheid South Africa. On the one hand, crime is a source of political division and social discontent. On the other, participation in the criminal economy provides a source of income to many, and social and capital accumulation to some. Much of the national anxiety relates to violent forms of predatory crime. In recent years there has been growing concern about the corrosive effects of economic crime, systematic pilferage, and corruption—both within public and private institutions. There has been no shortage of conversation about the underlying causes of crime or of the most appropriate strategies to contain structural and individual factors that push individuals toward crime. An explosion of alternative sources of crime data and research-based policy have been compiled since the 1990s. Victim crime surveys have brought to light experiences of criminal victimization and trends in reporting, as well as the public perceptions of insecurity and state inefficacy. The search for bold strategic interventions and suitable policy responses continues. Policy has oscillated between punitive law-and-order approaches to more developmentally oriented crime prevention measures. The concern with modernizing and democratizing criminal justice institutions in line with the constitutional imperatives of the rule of law—so characteristic a feature during the first phase of reform—has given way to equally pressing demands for effectiveness and efficacy. Scholarship on crime and justice in South Africa has broadened. Comparative inquiries, for example, have contributed to our understanding of the South African experience. From a comparative point of view, South Africa constitutes one variation on a wider structural theme confronting many transitional democracies in the developing world. Historical analyses continue to remind us of the structural continuities between the old and new South Africa. At a more conceptual level, there have been concerted attempts at theorizing the future of South African access to safety and justice, based on innovative sharing of responsibilities by a wide range of actors around common objectives. Scholarship on the topic has thickened and deepened in ways that are increasingly interdisciplinary, conceptually challenging, and empirically grounded.

Article.  9227 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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