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Video clip: Vigilante whipping, South Africa, 1999
With comments by C. Farrell
This 5-minute film consists of extracts from a 1999 TV documentary, The Limp Wrist of the Law, by Adri Kotzé, about the perceived incapacity of the official police and judicial system to deal with crime in the urban townships around Cape Town.
The footage shows a number of young men being rounded up and severely whipped for an alleged gang rape. The rape victim herself was one of those wielding the sjambok. What was unusual about this vigilante beating was that the whole thing was filmed for television, and the case thus gained some notoriety, as explained in a newspaper article as follows:
As noted in Section 11 of our feature article Judicial Corporal Punishment in South Africa, the country has a long history of extrajudicial CP. The best-known vigilante group in modern times, Mapogo a Mathamaga, has often explicitly stated that it concentrates its whippings on the offender's bare buttocks. In the present case, however, the procedure was more rough-and-ready: the alleged offenders were simply roped together and lashed indiscriminately all over their naked bodies.
As Ms Aitkenhead points out, some viewers will find these scenes distasteful. Nevertheless, there could be little sympathy with those being punished, if they really did gang-rape the girl. Quite probably they did. The difficulty (from the point of view of upholding the rule of law) is that, in the absence of any proper court hearing with due process, the offence of rape had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt and, for all we know, the wrong youths might have been rounded up.
HERE IS THE CLIP:
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