Interpreting the Body Count: South African Statistics on Lethal Police Violence

Interpreting the Body Count: South African Statistics on Lethal Police Violence

This paper looks at the incidence of lethal police violence since, and prior to, the transition to democracy in South Africa in the mid 1990s. The purpose of the paper is to clarify what is known about levels of deaths resulting from the use of force or violence by the police in post-apartheid South Africa. The paper also attempts to shed some light on what conclusions may be drawn about the 'lethality' of the police in democratic South Africa, as compared with the SAP during apartheid. It concludes that there is reason to doubt the reliability of information on killings by police from the apartheid period.


David Bruce
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David Bruce is a Johannesburg-based independent researcher and writer working in the fields of policing, crime and criminal justice. He obtained his Master's Degree Public and Development Management and Bachelor's Degree Bachelor of Arts with majors in Legal Theory and Industrial Sociology from The University of the Witwatersrand.



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