n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Doing justice differently : is restorative justice appropriate for domestic violence?

Special Edition 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The South African government has made significant commitments towards protecting victims' rights. In response to the alarmingly high rates of reported and unreported domestic violence incidents, policies on victims are to be found in a range of legislative and policy provisions interalia: Services Charter for Victims of Crime; Bill of Human Rights in the South African Constitution and the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998. Interest in domestic violence has been growing in the restorative justice movement for many years, particularly on the academic level. In most western countries the realisation that these cases pose higher risks for victims, the lack of resources to properly address the dynamics of domestic violence, that mediators / facilitators need to have a deeper understanding, knowledge and training when dealing with domestic violence issues and a reluctance on the part of the criminal justice system to refer cases to restorative justice processes has meant that actual work in restorative processes with victims of domestic violence has been scarce. However, the scenario in South Africa is slightly different. Statistics from the National Prosecuting Authority, as well as recent evaluations of referrals to restorative justice processes indicate that prosecutors are not averse to referring domestic violence cases, where it is deemed appropriate. A growing number of cases are being referred to restorative justice service providers such as 'The Justice and Restoration Programme' in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal. This article outlines the findings of a pilot study on how victims of domestic violence experience restorative justice processes (victim-offender mediation and victim-offender conferencing) and re-offending.

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