by Colin Knox and Rachel Monaghan
Journal of Conflict Studies Volume XXI, No.2 Winter 2001
High crime rates, perceived police ineffectiveness and alleged corruption within the criminal justice system have all contributed to the continued existence of retributive informal justice. To those who can afford it the private security industry now provides safety and security for a fee. It is estimated that the private security industry is worth more than R9bn (approximately US$1.145bn) and that the ratio of private security personnel to uniformed police officers is four to one.  Those communities who cannot afford this alternative protection have to rely ontheir own initiatives. ... new groups have emerged that include Peninsula Anti-Crime Agency (PEACA)  in the Western Cape, Mapogo a Mathamaga  in the Northern Province and the willingness of taxi associations in some townships to become involved in crime solving for a fee. Furthermore, in some cases spontaneous mobs form to mete out justice to alleged criminals. All of these groups stand accused of using corporal punishment and violence in responding to crime. ... Mapogo has also been accused of throwing suspects into crocodile-infested waters, while taxi-drivers in Guguletu are implicated in dragging alleged criminals behind vehicles.
To the inhabitants of the townships, the kangaroo courts of the taxi associations or justice of the mob are the only effective source of crime control and justice available to them. The police and criminal justice system, although accepted as legitimate, are perceived as ineffective, cumbersome and in some instances corrupt. The anti-crime activities of the taxi-drivers in Guguletu were seen by many residents as an effective crime control measure; not only were goods and monies retrieved and the alleged criminal dealt with, but the actions of the taxi-drivers were viewed as a deterrent to other criminals in the area. Crime figures cited in the Cape Times for the first month of the taxi-drivers' actions show a decrease in theft (21 percent), murder (56 percent)and housebreaking (24 percent) in the area.  Superintendent Conradie, head of crime prevention at Guguletu Police Station, while condemning the taxi-drivers' methods, acknowledged that crime had risen since their anti-crime activities had stopped: "After these people of the taxis were arrested, immediately there was an enormous lot of robberies especiallywith firearms and the taxi people really made a difference."  Community endorsement and support for the taxi-drivers are outlined by two interviewees:
You have just bought a new microwave, a new fridge and so on. Perhaps you go to work, the kids go to school, you come back later during the day and everything is gone and it's quite a difficult situation. You have seen the taxi people working. They were able to catch the thief, bring back the stolen goods. So you are obviously driven towards the taxi people to ask for help. Immediately they have picked up the individual and the individual has dished out the necessary information in terms of where the goods are. The taxi people go beyond that to the extent of perhaps killing the person, and that leaves the community spirit crushed.
People go to the taxis because they are looking for a quick fix, because the police is a long road that can take years. The taxis, you go now and you get your stuff in the afternoon, and the case is solved, everything. 
63. Martin Schsnteich, Unshackling the Crime Fighters (Johannesburg: SAIRR, 1999), pp. 21-24.
64. PEACA is based in Khayelitsha, a township near Cape Town. It was formed in August 1998 by ex-combatants of the liberation struggle who came together to fight crime and its members number1,500.
65. Mapogo a Mathamaga was established in August 1996 and has some 40,000 members who pay a monthly subscription to the organization in return for protection against crime.
67. Eric Ntabazalila and Motshidisi Mokwena, "Crime rate is dropping in Guguletu, say residents," Cape Times (Cape Town), ND August 1998.
68. Interview, Guguletu, November 1999.
69. Focus group interview, Guguletu, November 1999.
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