The politics of mobilization for security in South African townships
London : Oxford University Press
607 - 627 p.
Taking account of the myriad of policing initiatives that have emerged both from the grassroots and from the state in post-apartheid South Africa, this article investigates the politics of mobilization for security. Focusing on the coloured townships of the Western Cape, it argues that there is no clear distinction between vigilantism and community policing, but that they are best understood as two sides of the same process of mobilization for security. The provision of security in poor neighbourhoods is an important resource in the struggle for political support, and the article argues that the willingness of government to ban vigilante organizations is not simply a reaction to their supposed violence, but also a way of defeating political opponents. By the same token, community policing initiatives are established both to reassert the authority of the state over communities that are supposed to be prone to vigilantism and to promote a specific political party agenda. The article concludes that rather than posing a threat to state sovereignty, local mobilization for security in South Africa can be seen as part of a dynamic process of state formation.