August marked 10 years since the Marikana massacre, when police in South Africa shot down 34 striking mineworkers at a platinum mine in the North-West Province. This episode provoked a deeper public awareness of rampant police violence in post-apartheid South Africa, which continues to repress poor and working-class communities and entrench class, racial and gender inequalities. Are alternatives possible? What could those look like in a country rife with crime, and where many people genuinely desire public safety, but mistrust the police?
In his new book, Shoot to Kill: Police and Power in South Africa (Inkani Books, 2022), regular AIAC contributor Christopher McMichael places the institution of policing in its wider, historical context, and argues that democratic and humanistic alternatives for public safety are possible. A world without police need not mean a world without safety.
Christopher is a cultural critic and political commentator. He has a PhD in political science from Rhodes University and writes on power, crime and culture.