Socrates and student protest in postapartheid South Africa – Part Two

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Peté, S.
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Faculty of Law, University of the Free State
English: During recent years, various South African universities have fallen victim to student protest. The degree of violence involved in, as well as the frequency and duration of such protest action have varied from university to university. This article focuses on student protest action at the University of KwaZulu-Natal between 2012 and 2014. It examines such protest action through the lens of Plato’s text Crito, which describes the events leading up to the death of Socrates. The question at the core of this article is whether or not the opinions of the ancient Greeks – Socrates, in particular – on the issue of obedience to law are in any way useful to South African law students when considering this issue in the context of the society in which they live. The article is divided into two parts. Part One examines the attitudes of the ancient Greeks to the issue of obedience to law and highlights points of possible relevance to the politics of protest in post-apartheid South Africa. Part Two of the article examines student protests between 2012 and 2014 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It also analyses two competing narratives about the nature of law in post-apartheid South Africa, which may assist in explaining the intimidatory tone of much of the protest action examined.
Afrikaans: Gedurende die afgelope paar jaar is verskeie Suid-Afrikaanse universiteite deur studente-protesaksie geteister. Die graad van geweld hierby betrokke, asook die aantal en duur van sulke insidente, verskil van een universiteit na die ander. Hierdie artikel fokus op studente-protesaksie aan die Universiteit van KwaZulu-Natal tussen 2012 en 2014. Hierdie protesaksie word beskou deur die lens van Plato se beroemde teks Crito, wat die gebeure voor die dood van Socrates beskryf. Hierdie artikel se kernvraag is, of die benadering van die Griekse filosowe, veral Socrates, teenoor die vraag of die reg gehoorsaam behoort te word of nie, enigsins relevant is vir Suid-Afrikaanse regsstudente in die konteks van hul huidige samelewing. Die artikel is tweeledig. Deel Een bestudeer die denke van die Griekse filisowe teenoor die vraag of die reg gehoorsaam behoort te word of nie, en lig sekere punte uit wat relevant mag wees in die konteks van die Suid-Afrikaanse politiek na afloop van apartheid. Deel Twee bestudeer verskeie studente-protesaksies aan die Universiteit van KwaZulu-Natal tussen 2012 en 2014. Die outeur analiseer twee verskillende denkwyses oor die rol van die reg in Suid-Afrika na afloop van apartheid, wat mag help om die intimiderende toon van studente-protesaksie gedurende die afgelope paar jaar te verklaar.
Student protests, South African universities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Plato, Crito, Socrates
Pete, S. (2015). Socrates and student protest in post-apartheid South Africa-Part Two. Journal for Juridical Science, 40(1 & 2), 1-23.