Chapter

Racial violence and the legal system in South Africa

Ivan Evans

in Cultures of Violence

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780719079047
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702208 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719079047.003.0008
Racial violence and the legal system in South Africa

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What impact did the legal system in South Africa have on racial violence? This chapter argues that the impact of the courts registered in two ways. Firstly, the paternalist sensibilities and a commitment to the ‘rule of law’ within the bench firmly shut the door on public and communal violence against blacks. Although the Supreme Court largely overlooked the lethal ‘pogrom’ that striking mine workers unleashed against innocent blacks during the 1922 strike, sentencing to death just one of the men who murdered innocent black bystanders, South Africa's legal system was strongly opposed to the quasi-legal ideology of ‘repressive justice’ which prevailed in the Southern states. Secondly, courts in South Africa were quite willing to accommodate private racial violence, which, whether in the form of serious assaults or murder, became an ingrained feature of race relations in South Africa.

Keywords: legal system; blacks; racial violence; race relations

Chapter.  15291 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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