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Restorative Justice as a Key for Healing Communities

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South Africa is indeed a country of many contrasts, of extreme wealth and extreme poverty. All South Africans were deeply affected by apartheid and this had a huge effect on how communities (including both offenders and victims) on all levels took shape: where they lived, the quality of their housing and neighbourhoods, the resources they had or did not have at their disposal, what schools their children attended, what opportunities they had for economic gain and how they were emotionally affected by the policies of apartheid. This article specifically intends to argue that communities should deal in a positive and urgent way with the divide caused by the past so that victims and offenders do not stay victims and offenders but are assisted to move on in their life journey towards healing and wholeness. The author believes that the key for reaching this goal is justice, especially restorative justice. With this qualification in mind the article wants to argue that the Christian church in particular can play a central role in implementing restorative justice in local communities. This will ultimately help to break the destructive cycle of being a victim today and an offender tomorrow, or the other way round.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, Republic of South Africa


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