n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - Race, class and restorative justice in South Africa : Achilles heel, glass ceiling or crowning glory?

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



This article reports on a research project aimed at assessing the impact of race and class disparity in restorative justice processes in South Africa. It was conducted against the backdrop of the inclusion of family group conferencing and restorative justice policy in the Child Justice Bill 49-2002 and in various governmentally supported initiatives. All known facilitators who had convened family group conferences in the preceding year were requested to complete a questionnaire and to report on specific cases in which a family group conference had been held where victims and offenders were from different class or racial backgrounds. Six of the returned case studies are detailed in the article. The authors conclude that, while inter-race and inter±class restorative processes occur less frequently than might be predicted, the fact of these differences is not necessarily an impediment to success. However, numerous other factors, including language differences and transport difficulties, can limit the effectiveness of this method of resolution of criminal justice disputes.

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