ABSTRACT

The concept of transformative justice has emerged in recent years as a response to perceived shortcomings in the standard toolkit of transitional justice, particularly in relation to addressing structural violence and violations of socioeconomic rights. 1 This chapter asks what role the concept of transformative justice might have in addressing the continuing effects of historical wrongs on South Africa in the post-transition period. There are three areas where the concept may add value to analysis and practice. These are, first, as a means by which measures seeking to address historical wrongs may be analysed and evaluated. Second, as an explicit framework for action shaping policymaking and practice. Third, as a means by which practices and policies may be understood in relationship to one another and in relation to addressing historically rooted structural violence and socioeconomic rights issues (Evans, 2013b). Here each of these possible uses is explored and evaluated with reference to the South African context. Risks and difficulties associated with adopting the transformative justice framework in one way or another are also discussed. The chapter concludes that transformative justice can most readily add value to the analysis of existing and proposed actions (policy and practice) in relation to their contribution to addressing socioeconomic rights violations and other historical wrongs. It is also concluded that the transformative justice framework could play a role in implicitly or explicitly shaping practice. However, it is suggested that there are more significant obstacles to this than there are to the adoption of transformative justice as an analytical lens.