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Global South Powers in Transition

A Comparative Analysis of Mexico and South Africa


Edited By Deon Geldenhuys and Humberto González

Employing a novel collaborative transnational methodology, this ground-breaking book presents the first comprehensive and systematic comparison of Mexico and South Africa. Although geographically, historically and diplomatically far apart, Mexico and South Africa are ambitious and influential powers in the Global South and also experience wide-ranging domestic transitions. A binational team of 26 researchers from the two countries, all specialists in their respective disciplines, probe the transitions that Mexico and South Africa are undergoing in areas such as socio-cultural diversity, domestic politics, economic development, labour dynamics, social and territorial inequality, food security, crime and violence, and foreign relations. The detailed country studies allow the authors to identify striking similarities but also profound differences between the two societies. In so doing, the book helps to explain Mexico and South Africa to each other but also to the world at large.

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CHAPTER 9 Violence and criminal justice



Violence and criminal justice

General introduction

Elena Azaola and Gareth Newham

The advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994 and in Mexico in 2000, generated hopes in both countries that there would be substantial changes in the nature of government and society. In particular, it was expected that these countries would become more peaceful and that there would be enhanced levels of security and justice for their citizens. However, it has become increasingly clear that such expectations are far from being fulfilled, albeit partly for different reasons.

In South Africa, it was thought that the end of the brutal apartheid regime would give way to a more just and egalitarian society, something that has only partially happened. In the case of Mexico, significant levels of criminality continued after democratisation and are in fact higher than in 2000.

The framework for a comparative analysis of the two countries starts with the most useful statistical comparator of violence, namely the homicide rate. The case studies then interrogate the key dynamics behind the homicide rates and trends in each country before detailing the response of the state to increasing levels of insecurity. In this regard the framework for a comparative analysis involved assessing the allocation of resources to the police and state security, the approach to policing, and the consequences thereof. Moreover, the specific political dynamics influencing policing was also considered before offering some thoughts on the future...

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