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Contradictions of DemocracyVigilantism and Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa$
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Nicholas Rush Smith

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190847180

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190847180.001.0001

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Spectacles of Statecraft

Spectacles of Statecraft

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Post-Apartheid Lawmaking

Chapter:
(p.57) Chapter 3 Spectacles of Statecraft
Source:
Contradictions of Democracy
Author(s):

Nicholas Rush Smith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190847180.003.0004

Why was the democratic state unable to monopolize violence despite massive judicial reforms? By considering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one of the most important early state-building institutions, the chapter shows the state has had difficulty disciplining relations between citizens such that they would turn to the law to resolve disputes rather than violently doing so themselves. Specifically, it examines the Victor Kheswa hearings in Sebokeng where, despite Kheswa’s alleged involvement in one of the worst massacres in South African history, his mother was put on stage as a victim of human rights abuses. The chapter argues that by proclaiming Kheswa’s mother as a victim, the TRC went against local notions of justice, as she was widely considered to be an enabler of violence, not a victim. This infelicitous performance mirrored the state’s challenges in getting citizens to turn to the law for justice, as many citizens considered suspects’ procedural rights as putting the law on the side of criminals.

Keywords:   democratic state formation, lawmaking, juridical capital, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Sebokeng, Khetisi Kheswa

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