Few editions of SACQ over the past few years have been introduced without reference to the crisis in policing. It is precisely this focus on policing and crime control that has, arguably, distracted South African criminologists from digging deeper to answer the difficult questions about why crime and violence remain such persistent problems. In the September 2012 edition of SACQ (41), Bill Dixon set down the challenge to South African criminologists to consider this gap. His conclusion was that it is ‘where history and structure meet biography and the human psyche’ that the future of South African criminology lies.
In this edition of SACQ Sarah Henkeman answers Dixon, and takes the challenge further. Writing from the margins, Henkeman foregrounds social justice as the central purpose of any legitimate criminological endeavour in South Africa. She challenges criminologists to step away from a comfortable post-apartheid framework for analysing crime and violence, and argues that our short memories and restrictive theories have prevented us from adequately understanding and theorising about violence. Like Dixon, she too argues for an integrative approach that combines an interpretation of structural and individual factors in an effort to understand why we find ourselves mired in violence. Perhaps even more importantly she points to the whiteness of the criminological academy and the marginalisation of black voices and perspectives. This article both challenges South African criminologists and offers some thoughts on where we might take our thinking – I hope it will stimulate reaction and response.
As the 2014 elections loom, David Bruce offers a description and analysis of cases of politically motivated killings since 1994. His article goes some way towards filling the gap in knowledge about the extent of political killings – a gap caused by the absence of any central record keeper, within or outside of the state. He identifies KwaZulu-Natal as the province most deeply affected by political violence, with intra-party rivalry as the primary cause.
Reducing the ‘drivers’ or risk factors for violence is the preoccupation of a relatively small group of practitioners and academics in South Africa concerned with promoting a public health approach to violence. They have had some success in effecting policy change aimed at reducing the availability of alcohol, particularly in the Western Cape, based on evidence from other countries that restricting the sale of alcohol can reduce violence-related injuries and deaths. Yet, as Herrick and Charman show, enforcing the restrictions on the sale of alcohol has resulted in unintended negative consequences, and in some cases has undermined the already limited ability of shebeen owners to ensure the safety of their customers and businesses.
Karabo Ngidi continues the focus on the state’s response to the illegal sale of alcohol with a case note about a Constitutional Court case that confirmed a court order for a house from which alcohol had been sold illegally, to be forfeited by the owners under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. Ngidi argues that the ruling is indicative of a hardened stance towards shebeens and the illegal sale of alcohol.
Finally, in the on-the-record feature, Savera Kalideen, advocacy manager for Soul City, speaks about the Phuza Wize campaign and the enormous difficulties facing proponents of a holistic, public health approach to violence reduction. Perhaps the most significant obstacle is the apparent absence of an appetite to adequately fund and support the testing and application of interventions aimed at preventing violence.
Chandré Gould (Editor)