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In his book, A Country at War with Itself, Antony Altbeker has highlighted that the extraordinary and distressing feature of crime in South Africa is not how common it is, but how violent.
This analysis moves on from that point, arguing that rather than focusing on violent crime as a specific type of criminality, we should examine violence as a separate category that sometimes overlaps with crime and sometimes does not. This shift in focus reveals that it is not South African crime that is so violent, but South African society in general. It shows that many of these forms of violence are both legal and socially acceptable. This includes violence in childrearing, intimate relationships, education, sport, film and television, establishing social identities, and political negotiation, to name but a few significant areas.
An examination of these popular and accepted forms of violence provides a revealing analysis of how these patterns are reproduced socially and psychologically,explaining how individuals and groups come to use violence as an everyday strategy of social negotiation. This analysis makes it clear that violent crime is a reflection of deeper patterns of violence within the society, and highlights the importance of including approaches other than law enforcement in reducing violence in South Africa.