The Power of Naming: 'Senseless Violence' and Violent Law in Post-Apartheid South Africa

The Power of Naming: 'Senseless Violence' and Violent Law in Post-Apartheid South Africa

This report focuses on vigilantism, on the practice of 'necklacing' as a form of punishment, and on police violence in South Africa post-apartheid. The report engages with a series of questions about how popular forms of justice are imagined and enacted and about what the persistence of forms of violent punishment that originated during apartheid signifies in South Africa today. The report explores some of the complex reasons why people understand violence to be a means for achieving justice. It considers issues related to collective violence, violence connected to service delivery protests, and violence widely understood by perpetrators, onlookers, and researchers to be punitive in intent. It contests the idea that such forms of violence are 'senseless', arguing that to do so is to evade the question of how violence is bound to the political order, both past and present.

 

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Kylie Thomas
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Kylie Thomas is a Senior Lecturer in Visual Studies in the Department of Fine Art at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. In 2012 she worked as a researcher as part of the Violence and Transition Project, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape.

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