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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:From witch-hunts to thief-hunts: on the temporality of evil in the South African Lowveld
Author:Niehaus, IsakISNI
Periodical:African historical review (ISSN 1753-2531)
Geographic term:South Africa
vigilante groups
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17532523.2012.714159
Abstract:This article explores continuities and changes between two forms of political mobilization in the Bushbuckridge region of South Africa: violent attacks on alleged witches by young men during the late 1980s, and the punishment of thieves and rapists by anti-crime squads since 2009. The author suggests that within local knowledge witches, thieves and rapists have important affinities. As 'absented persons' they perpetrate negative reciprocity and feed upon ordinary hardworking villagers. But significant differences become apparent when one considers the broader 'tempo-politics' of these kinds of political mobilization. Activism occurred against witches towards the end of apartheid and was informed by ideologies of liberation and lineal progress. Witches were perceived as elders who were rooted in the past, and spread misfortune that obstructed the realization of a brighter future. Fifteen years into democratic rule, the new ANC government's promises of prosperity lacked conviction. In this context, the crimes perpetrated by young thieves and rapists, provoked disquiet about succeeding generations and about the future. Anti-crime squads did not seek to inaugurate an age of bliss, but rather aimed to avert catastrophe. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]