n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Restorative justice : a global overview of its functioning and effectiveness

Volume 16, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Throughout most of human history restorative justice was the dominant criminal justice model, as is evident from the ancient Arab, Greek and Roman civilisations, all of which required compensation for the victim. Restorative justice was also the main focus of various aboriginal communities in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Historically, African societies also mostly focused on the victims of crime, and restitution and reconciliation was considered as crucial to redress the harm caused by crime.

There has been a refocusing on restorative justice in Western countries since the early 1970s. Criminologists played a leading role in the modern revival of restorative justice by refocusing on the rights and needs of crime victims. It is also evident that South Africa is moving from a retributive to a restorative criminal justice system. It is, therefore, important to ensure that the judiciary becomes actively involved in the development of restorative justice in South Africa, in order to give effect to the government's shift from an offender-centred criminal justice system to a victim-centred restorative justice system as set out in the SA National Crime Prevention Strategy and other government reports as well as recent legal decisions and new draft legislation.
This article reviews the objectives of restorative justice as well as the South African New Sentencing Framework Bill, the Child Justice Bill and the draft Sexual Offences Bill, all of which make provision for restorative justice.

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