South Africa: When the State Fails, Vigilantism Steps in - and That Includes Digital Outing


As protests against the rape and murder of women spread across South Africa, the Twitter thread @helpsurvivors outed alleged rapists and assaulters. Many were outraged, but when systems fail, vigilantism takes over.

Vigilantism (even in its digital form) is often described as "taking the law and justice into your own hands". Objectively, we can all argue that vigilantism in any form should not be welcomed or applauded, because the wellbeing of society is aided by the rule of law and the ability for justice to run its course. Individuals should never be burdened or responsible for enacting the rules and laws that govern society.

This ideal, however, is harder to uphold and ascribe to in a world where the systems of justice are neither functioning, effective nor accountable. Unfortunately, in South Africa today when it comes to policing and gender-based violence (GBV) this is simply not the case. Responses to the #AmINext movement are testament to this.

Women and children across South Africa mourned this past week. We mourned the brutal murders of young Uyinene Mrwetyana, Jesse Hess and the many others made invisible by class, sexual orientation, race and by how common murder of young women in this country...

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