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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The revival of 'people's courts': informal justice in transitional South Africa
Author:Seekings, JeremyISNI
Periodical:South African Review - SARS
Geographic term:South Africa
Subject:popular justice
Abstract:This article considers the revival of township courts in South Africa (with the exception of Natal) in the period 1990-1991. The first period of people's courts lasted from 1985 to 1986. Between the 1985-1986 and the 1990-1991 periods, the central underlying concerns in the debate on township courts or informal justice have shifted. In the mid-1980s the central issue was the link between people's courts and national political strategies and struggles. More recently the debate among political leaders and academic observers has centred on the question of the potential role of township courts in everyday crime prevention and settlement of disputes. The article first describes the many kinds of informal justice which have operated since 1990: irregularly constituted 'kangaroo courts', regularly constituted 'street committees' or 'disciplinary committees', one-off street gatherings, and various informal policing and vigilante activities. Then it explains the revival of township courts and the shifting attitude of the State towards these courts. Finally, it deals with the Jekyll-and-Hyde character of informal justice and the role it could perform in the official judicial system. Notes, ref.