VOLUME 5 (2003) - ISSUE 10 (WINTER)

Violence and Crime in a Multiethnic Context: A South-African Case Study

by Anton SENEKAL, Willem SCHURINK and Emmerentie OLIPHANT


This case study of crime and violence in multi-ethnic South African society offers a broad overview of this multiracial national state. The country has been experiencing a persistent wave of violence and crime for quite some time now, occurring primarily along race and ethnic lines.

In spite of the "1994 miracle", when power was transferred peacefully to a democratically elected black majority government in South Africa, a new threat, in the form of crime and crime-related violence, which the Government thus far could not contain successfully, made its presence felt in no uncertain terms. As a consequence, certain groups tend to take the law into their own hands, as they perceive the Government being unable to protect South African citizens adequately. This is a serious development which if not addressed speedily and effectively could in the longer run become highly politicized issue.

Authors conclude with emphasizing the family in South African society and indicating its crucial role in any long-term attempt to address the Rainbow Nation’s crime and violence problem.


Violence - Crime - Multiethnicity - South Africa


Willem SCHURINK commenced work in 1971 as an assistant researcher at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Pretoria, Gauteng. He obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology from the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education South Africa in 1989. He held various positions, and had been a chief research specialist in the Research Group “Democracy and Governance” when he took an early pension packet at the end of April 2000. At present, Willem practizes as a consultant in various social science fields. The HSRC recently contracted him to write chapters for and edit a forthcoming publication on recent developments in the crime prevention field in South Africa. 

Willem’s fields of interest and specialization include social science methodology, theory of deviance, criminological and victimological theory, crime prevention, children’s issues (e.g. street children, child labor and child prostitution), HIV/AIDS, rape, family violence, and prison studies.  His most significant works cover crime problems (1979), gay men and women (1981, 1990), South African prisons (1989), street children (1993), commercial sex work (1993), family violence policy and intervention (1996), and expert assessment of the explanation of crime and decision support in the South African Police Service (2000).

Anton SENEKAL is an associate professor at the Rand Afrikaans University, RSA. His Ph.D. thesis (1985) bore on the attitude of White South African adults towards the South African military system. Anton’s work focuses notably on the sociology of crime and social deviance, and on the role of family and friendship in social integration. He wrote numerous articles such as When deviance becomes sin (1999), The family on the frontline of the fight against crime (1998), Poverty and patterns of setllement (1997), Evaluative relativism and the study of deviant behaviour (1993), and Directionality in human behaviour (1989).

Emmerentie OLIPHANT has been a faculty member of the Department of Social Work at the Rand Afrikaans University, RSA, since 1994. She has a Phd in Social Work and specialized in family therapy. She has received training at various family therapy clinics such as the Betty Ford Clinic in the United States.She completed a National Certificate in Assessment and Intervention of the Youth Sex Offender in the United States in 2000. Emmerentie also managed a family clinic in Pretoria, RSA, on a voluntary basis from 1994 -1999. During the period 1993-1999 she ran a part-time private practice for family centered services. Prior to this, Dr. Oliphant was a social worker at the Department of Correctional Services and the Department of Health and Welfare. She believes that these experiences in the field of social work have given her the opportunity to find the link between theory and practice. Her interest is in the field of family services, social development, cross-cultural issues and social work education.


Author Name (Year), “Title”, in: The International Scope Review, Volume Number, Issue Number, TSCF Editions, Brussels.


This contribution is a chapter of the book edited by Patrick HUNOUT, The Erosion of the Social Link in the Economically Advanced Countries.


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