We need a complicit police! Political policing then and now

  • Julia Hornberger University of the Witwatersrand
Keywords: Public order policing, South Africa, police brutality, violence


South Africa is witnessing a build-up of cases of public order policing gone wrong, in fact deadly wrong. Even the police are willing to admit that something is amiss. Yet the police response is a short-sighted one, which places the responsibility for the eruption of violence squarely with the people protesting, and underestimates its own role in aggravating the situation. I argue here that if the police wish to break the patterns of their long history of protecting a government and its partisan interests, and do not want to be misunderstood in their intention to serve the people, then simply increasing the capacity of public order policing will not help. On the contrary, we might end up (again) with a permanent occupying army. Instead the police have to become more explicitly partisan towards the citizens they serve, and help deliver the message inherent in each protest.

Author Biography

Julia Hornberger, University of the Witwatersrand
Department of Anthropology
  • Abstract 81
  • PDF 55
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