Our growing Law list includes a range of books to help readers develop their understanding of legal issues; from engaging works on current affairs and topics of public interest to interdisciplinary monographs and international edited collections, such as those in our Law, Society, Policy series.
The titles on this list are high-quality scholarly works that shape readers’ understanding of law and society, with authors shining a spotlight on injustice and presenting compelling proposals for change in policy and practice.
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This chapter examines the appearance of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at South Africa’s Truth And Reconciliation Commission, and specifically her refusal to make a full apology to the victims of the actions of the Mandela United Football Club. The chapter makes two arguments. First, that there is an implicit gendered script apparent in the hearing, in the ways in which apology was demanded, as well as in the affective moves at work in Madikizela-Mandela’s testimony. The chapter argues that the strategy of discursive reattribution at work in her testimony placed responsibility fully on the apartheid state as well as on the patriarchal double standard by which Madikizela-Mandela was judged. Second, the chapter argues that reattribution rather than apology was an effective device for the intended audience for the apology. In standing her ground, Madikizela-Mandela became the figure around whom a narrative rupture of the reconciliation project coalesced. In resisting the demand to provide a narrative of culpability, Madikizela-Mandela disallowed the TRC’s own narrative of truth-telling and personal accountability. This stance illuminated the emerging fault lines in democratic South Africa, between those who accepted the terms of the transition and those for whom the TRC side-lined justice in favour of reconciliation.
Equality Courts in South Africa are empowered to order an unconditional apology where hate speech, unfair discrimination, or harassment has been perpetrated. But is a court-ordered apology an effective remedy against hate speech? This chapter critically reflects on the role of court-ordered apologies as a remedy for hate speech. It does so through the lens of two South African Equality Court cases, each involving the publication of hate-filled bigotry against minority groups and each including a demand for an apology. These cases offer useful reflections on the effectiveness of apology as a legal remedy in relation to three ‘types’ of hate speech transgressors. The first is the recalcitrant hate speech transgressor who expressly refuses to apologise. The second concedes to an apology based on genuine and sincere remorse. And the third is the transgressor who – more cynically – may agree to apologise merely as a quick and cheap escape route from genuine reckoning. The chapter argues that in respect of each of these ‘types’ of transgressors, compelled apologies – when properly framed and crafted – can serve as a potent mechanism to restore and vindicate the dignity and equality rights of the target group.
This chapter situates the book within broader debates and literatures around apology, drawing out its context and relevance for a broader audience. It outlines the contributions made by each chapter and links them to one another by way of a number of critical themes around which meanings of apology are made, unmade, settled and unsettled. The chapter establishes the book’s resonance with contemporary demands for both reckoning and remedy in the face of legacies of colonialism and other enduring injustices, and the place of apology therein and, ultimately, in the possibility for reparative reconciliation. Traversing treatments of apology in law and alongside truth and justice, the chapter locates its meanings and effects within the prism of power. In doing so, it interrogates the value of the apology as constitutive of structures and articulations of power, drawing attention not only to what apology says, but also what it does. In exploring transformative potential, the chapter calls for a departure from a zero-sum reading of apology as either all or nothing, seeking instead to interrogate its value in exposing how structure, system, agency and context all mediate its transformative (im)possibilities.
This chapter tells the story of Fabian, a five-year-old boy, who regularly witnesses his father physically assault his mother, and who often is a victim of the violent abuse himself. Fabian also accompanies his mother when she visits the police station to bring charges against his father, and when she withdraws them after accepting his apology, allowing him to return home. Presented as a fictional narrative, communicated through the eyes of the child victim, the chapter centres on the themes of family violence, child vulnerability and invisibilisation, police service delivery, and domestic violence complainant withdrawals. It highlights how child victims, powerless to impact their own circumstances, are often forgotten and dismissed by parents, family members, police, and others who should be assuming responsibility for their safety and well-being.
Through analysis of case law on medical negligence claims in South Africa, this chapter considers how the refusal of health care providers to apologize for harm suffered when receiving medical care influences the actions of health users. It shows how the treatment of patients, in ways that they perceived as an assault on their dignity, feeds their belief that they have not received the best possible care from their interaction with the health system. While these assaults on dignity, by themselves, are not enough to make valid medical negligence claims, they in fact provide key insight into the motivations of litigants in seeking redress.
The chapter shows that even if human error cannot be completely removed from health care provision, healthcare providers can reduce their exposure to litigation by having an approach that is centered on treating patients with dignity, both during and after the provision of medical care to them. Such dignified and respectful treatment of patients, regardless of outcome, is the ultimate acknowledgement of their pain and is a necessary first step in giving effective apologies for medical wrongdoing.
Apologies by corporations tend to evoke a sense of unease: a feeling that the apology is inadequate, evasive or cowardly. South Africa’s recent past is littered with corporate scandals and disasters, in each of which those responsible have failed to apologise categorically to those they have harmed. This chapter discusses failed apologies in relation to some of the post-apartheid era’s worst corporate tragedies and fiascos, including the massacre of striking Lonmin workers at Marikana, the Tiger Brands listeriosis crisis, the implosion of Steinhoff, Tongaat Hulett’s fraudulent accounting, and KPMG’s complicity in “state capture”. It also proposes that in order to make sense of these failed apologies, it is necessary to understand corporate South Africa’s complicity in apartheid, and how it navigated its way into the new democratic era.
Recently, there has been a global resurgence of demands for the acknowledgement of historical and contemporary wrongs, as well as for apologies and reparation for harms suffered.
Drawing on the histories of injustice, dispossession and violence in South Africa, this book examines the cultural, political and legal role and value of an apology. It examines the multiple ways in which ‘sorry’ is instituted, articulated and performed, and critically analyses its various forms and functions in both historical and contemporary moments. Bringing together an interdisciplinary team of contributors, the book’s analysis offers insights which will be invaluable to global debates on the struggle for justice.
This chapter explores the impact of losing one’s language due to colonial violence and missionary education in black communities in South Africa. The author knits multi-generational conversations together in poetry to reflect on how the unapologetic imposition of English unravels linguistic threads which connect her to women in her community. The poetry is divided into three sections, Death, Mourning, and The unveiling , to mirror burial rituals in isiXhosa communities, and thus the occupation of the hybrid space between life and death, not of the body, but the tongue.
Chapter Three outlines a wide range of social and structural barriers that may discourage legal claims and explores the available data on the effectiveness of equality legislation in practice. Even where national measures are adopted, it is unclear how effective they are in practice, as states have generally failed to gather information on the operation of disability harassment law. The chapter begins with an overview of the barriers to making equality and disability harassment complaints, followed by a discussion of the success rates for equality claims, including harassment claims. The chapter argues that even where legislation is adopted to address disability harassment, a wide range of social and structural barriers may discourage legal complaints. Furthermore, even where disability harassment claims are brought, the available evidence suggests that the rate of success is not high. Relatively little work has been done to establish the reasons for this, though general research on equality claims may be indicative. The chapter therefore highlights the importance of continued monitoring and research, as well as the need for disaggregated disability equality data.
Disabled people report high levels of harassment worldwide, often based on intersectional characteristics such as race, gender and age. However, while #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter have highlighted ongoing experiences of sexual and racial harassment, disability harassment has received little attention.
This book focuses on legal measures to combat disability harassment at work. It sets disability harassment in its international context, including its human rights framework, and confronts the lack of empirical information by evaluating the Irish legal framework in practice.
It explores the capacity of the law to address intersectional harassment, particularly that faced by disabled women, and outlines the barriers to effective legal solutions.