An exploratory case study analysis of a restorative justice intervention project that mediated domestic violence cases in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Geyser, Melissa Monica.
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Domestic violence has been an ongoing phenomenon in South Africa. This form of violence has been exacerbated by the culture of violence that has existed in traditional gendered societies and that was exacerbated by the social injustices of the apartheid era. In this context, restorative justice is considered an alternative to the criminal justice system. Various legislations have been put in place to address domestic violence; however, it has remained a problematic social issue in South Africa. This study was based on exploring a restorative justice intervention that use mediation to assist in domestic violence cases in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The study focused on the Khulisa Justice and Restoration Project (KJARP) that was piloted in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal. This programme was later replicated in other communities within this province. The study endeavoured to determine whether the KJARP was able to implement restorative justice in domestic violence cases. This study made use of quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods in order to determine whether KJARP achieved the objectives that it had set out to achieve. The study found that Khulisa’s restorative mediation project had achieved its objectives, although it had to close its doors in 2013. Some recommendations regarding mediation processes for victims and offenders that should be implemented in domestic violence mediation are offered. For example, agreements need to be proportionate to the offence and involve others who were involved in or who are knowledgeable about the incident. Cultural values and norms should also be considered in mediation processes, while persons who support both victims and offenders should be present during mediation sessions, with stringent rules for their involvement. Although Khulisa terminated its mediation project for domestic violence cases in 2013, an investigation into this project was deemed important as valuable lessons could be learnt for future intervention programmes that deal with domestic violence.