SA’s ‘popular executions’ exceed highest annual figure for lynchings in US history

Staff Writer | Sep 14, 2019
There were three times more popular executions – 789 – in South Africa in 2018/19 than the highest annual number of lynchings in the United States (231) in 1892.

This emerges from a comparative analysis of South Africa’s latest crime statistics by the leading political website, Politicsweb.

The Politicsweb report notes: ‘Twenty-four years after the formal abolition of the death penalty in South Africa, at least 789 public executions were carried out by the people between April 2018 and March 2019.’

These were deaths in which the ‘causative factor’ was ‘mob justice/vigilantism’.

‘The sheer number of such summary, community-level, executions of various categories of enemy of the people (mostly criminals), is striking from a historical perspective.’

In the South African context, the total of 1 635 popular executions (846 in 2017/18) recorded by the police is more than the total number of hangings in the last twelve years of capital punishment in South Africa.

Set against the record in the United States, the number of South Africa’s popular executions is high.

Politicsweb cites a Montgomery Advertiser report of 1959, quoting the Tuskegee Institute as having recorded that 4 733 persons ‘died from mob action since 1882’. The report says: ‘For a period of 65 years ending in 1947 at least one lynching was reported each year. The most for any year was 231 in 1892. From 1882 to 1901, lynchings averaged more than 150 a year. Since 1924 lynchings have been on a marked decline, never more than 30 cases which occurred in 1926.’

Politicsweb notes: ‘In 2018/19 there were thus three times more popular executions in South Africa than the highest annual number of lynchings in the United States (in 1892). At this rate we surpass every five years the total recorded mob killings


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