When, early in 2013, we began planning this edition of SACQ to focus on policing, we expected that by the time of publication the Farlam Commission investigating the Marikana massacre would have concluded. We also expected that the commission of inquiry established by the Western Cape provincial government to look into policing problems in Khayelitsha (the O’Regan Commission) would be close to concluding its work. The findings and recommendations of these commissions, we hoped, would offer important insights into what is troubling policing in South Africa, and what needs to change. This was unfortunately not to be. Both commissions have been fraught with legal challenges that have delayed their progress, and neither is likely to conclude until some way into 2014. Despite this, we have retained policing as a focus for this edition.
One inevitable effect of the many delays and protracted hearings of the Farlam Commission is that it has fallen from the public gaze, making news only when something sensational occurs. In his article, Bill Dixon returns to examine the reporting about the Commission during its earlier days. He considers the contention made by both social commentators and lawyers for the families of miners that the massacre at Marikana resulted from a ‘toxic collusion’ between the police and the political and the economic elite; and by extension that the police were an instrument in the hands of those holding political and economic power. While evidence is emerging of close communication between the police and mine managers in the lead-up to the massacre at Marikana, Dixon argues that it would be a mistake to draw simplistic conclusions about the extent of the reach of these relations. He draws on the work of Steinberg and Hornberger to show that policing in South Africa is a far messier affair, and that relationships of power manifest in a multiplicity of ways.
In a response to Herrick and Charman’s article about the policing of liquor in the Western Cape (SACQ 45), Andrew Faull delves deeply into this messy business of daily policing. While Charman and Herrick offered the perspective of shebeeners being policed, Faull reflects on the daily experiences of police who enforce liquor laws. His article shows the complexities and contradictions inherent in policing private spaces, and forces us to look beyond policing for solutions to alcohol-related harms.
There is very little research or literature about police reservists in South Africa. Claudia Forster-Towne contributes an article to this edition of SACQ in which she considers how reservists view their work and their motivation for joining the reserve. Her article reflects on the way in which race and gender influence reservists’ motivations and aspirations. The article reminds us, painfully, that the spectre of apartheid manifests itself in how many people continue to make sense of the world through assumptions about race.
We depart from usual practice for this edition of SACQ by offering a special on-line feature that is not included in the hard copy edition of the journal. We are grateful to Juan-Paul Banchani, Elrena van der Spuy and the Centre for Criminology at the University of Cape Town for the comprehensive bibliography of South African policing literature. While the bibliography is only available in electronic format (see www.issafrica.org/sacq), Van der Spuy’s article, which considers the contribution of ethnographers and autobiographies to our understanding of policing in South Africa, is available both in the hard copy edition and on-line.
Megan Govender’s article is not about policing, but rather about the way in which crime statistics and the National Victims of Crime Surveys are presented and used to support opposing views of public perception about the levels of crime. We conclude this edition of the journal with a discussion between two policing researchers, Oliver Owen, whose ethnographic research has been undertaken in Nigeria, and Andrew Faull, whose research has been done in South Africa. They discuss the differences in how police performance is managed and measured in the two countries.
The Academy of Science of South Africa recently undertook a review of SACQ and recommended that the journal retain its accreditation status with the Department of Higher Education. If you are a regular reader of SACQ you will have noticed changes to the journal over the course of this year, and will see even more changes in the coming year, all of which are aimed at improving the quality of SACQ and are in-line with recommendations made by the Academy of Science.
Over the past year the editorial board of SACQ has played a significant role in informing practice and developing the policy of the journal. The board plays an active role in determining how we present ourselves, which issues to focus on and how we can improve the quality of the journal for our readers. SACQ is unlike other peer-reviewed journals, which have academics as their primary audience. SACQ aims to reach an audience of policy makers, practitioners (in the criminal justice system and civil society) and researchers (in the academy and in non-governmental organisations). The journal strives for a balance between academic rigour and accessibility. This means that while all articles are subject to double-blind peer review and must be of high quality, they should also be written in an easy-to-read manner and address issues that are relevant to policy makers and practitioners.
During 2013 the editorial board faced the difficult task of deciding whether to enter into an agreement with an established academic publisher or remain independent. An agreement with a publisher would have offered a range of benefits, including increased international reach and additional editorial support. However, it would have resulted in a significant reduction in the number of articles that would be accessible free of charge. After many months of deliberations and negotiations with the publisher, we decided to retain our open access status and remain independent. It is critically important to us that the journal remains accessible to readers who work in the criminal justice system and in non-governmental organisations, and we will continue to work in the coming years to ensure that this remains the case.
I would like to thank the members of the editorial board for their hard work and support of SACQ during 2014. I would also like to thank the sub-editors for their tremendous assistance. We are also deeply grateful to our funders, the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Ford Foundation, as without their support it would not have been possible to retain the open-access status of the journal.
Chandré Gould (Editor)