n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Perceptions of justice : a South African youth perspective

Volume 29 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



This article argues that it is important to explore public perceptions of justice in order to enhance the delivery of justice. South Africa has a dichotomous judicial system with strong punitive elements, as principally seen in the extent of criminal law, but also culturally engrained restorative elements found in restorative and traditional justice practices. As a country with a high crime rate South African citizens are, if not directly, indirectly affected by crime. South Africa's predominant retributive justice system is characterised by a general exclusion of the people who are the primary and secondary victims of crime. This exclusion is also evident in research where emphasis tends to focus on the perceptions of justice from the perspective of criminal justice practitioners. In contrast, limited research has been done to explore public perspectives about justice and the understanding thereof. In addition, limited studies have been done to determine if, and to what extent, members from society are: firstly, open to a more restorative approach in adjudication; and secondly, whether they are willing to become involved in the judicial process. In this article findings are presented from a study that explored the perceptions of 100 youths on crime, criminality and the administration of justice. Findings indicated that even though respondents favoured a more retributive system in which offenders are punished, they also acknowledged the value of restorative elements in addressing the harm caused by crime.

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