Vigilantism is a practice that is encountered relatively infrequently in the affluent states of the Global North. However, in many other regions that are inadequately serviced by state security, vigilantism is perceived by many locals as offering the only meaningful response to crime and social deviance. The Zandspruit Informal Settlement, located on the northern outskirts of Johannesburg, is one such area. Amidst an appallingly high rate of violent crime, the residents of this densely populated shantytown regularly witness and indeed participate in vigilante attacks. Despite its persistence, local attitudes towards vigilantism are complex and range from outright opposition and horror to grim acceptance and sanguinary enthusiasm. By analysing semi-structured interview data taken from 43 residents and workers in the Zandspruit area, this thesis seeks to explore and articulate the various local perspectives of this normalised but highly destructive social phenomena.
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