What Attitudes People Had Towards The Law How People Responded

Attitudes Towards the Law in South Africa

In South Africa, attitudes towards the law can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors such as culture, socio-economic status, and personal experiences. The history of apartheid and colonialism has also played a significant role in shaping how people view the legal system in the country. This article will discuss the different attitudes people have towards the law in South Africa and how they respond to it.

Traditional Beliefs and Customary Law

One of the unique aspects of South Africa’s legal system is the recognition of customary law, which is based on traditional beliefs and practices of various cultural groups in the country. Many people in rural areas still adhere to these customary laws, which govern issues such as marriage, inheritance, and land rights. While customary law is officially recognized by the state, there are often tensions between it and the formal legal system.

Some people view customary law as more legitimate and relevant to their lives than the laws imposed by the government. They may prefer to resolve disputes through traditional methods, such as mediation by tribal leaders, rather than going to court. However, there are also concerns that customary laws can be discriminatory, particularly towards women and vulnerable groups.

Perceptions of the Formal Legal System

Many South Africans have mixed feelings towards the formal legal system in the country. On one hand, the legal system is seen as a tool for justice and accountability, particularly in cases of corruption or human rights abuses. The Constitution of South Africa is widely respected for its progressive provisions that protect individual rights and promote equality.

What Attitudes People Had Towards The Law How People Responded

However, there are also widespread criticisms of the legal system, particularly regarding issues of access to justice and corruption within the judiciary. The cost of legal representation and lengthy court proceedings can make it difficult for many people, especially those from marginalized communities, to seek redress through the formal legal system. As a result, some people may feel disillusioned with the law and resort to other means to resolve their disputes.

Responses to the Law

Given the complexities of South Africa’s legal landscape, people respond to the law in various ways. Some individuals and communities actively engage with the legal system, either by seeking legal advice or challenging unjust laws through litigation. Civil society organizations and human rights activists also play a crucial role in holding the government accountable and advocating for legal reforms.

On the other hand, there are instances where people choose to bypass the formal legal system altogether. In some cases, this may be due to a lack of trust in the judiciary or concerns about the fairness of the process. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as community-based mediation or arbitration, are often used as a way to resolve conflicts outside of the courtroom.

Furthermore, there are instances where people may resort to vigilantism or mob justice as a response to perceived failures of the legal system. This can have serious implications for the rule of law and public safety, as it undermines the authority of the state and can lead to violence and injustice.


Attitudes towards the law in South Africa are shaped by a complex interplay of historical, cultural, and socio-economic factors. While many people view the legal system as a tool for justice and accountability, others may have reservations about its effectiveness and accessibility. It is crucial for the government and other stakeholders to address these challenges and work towards building a legal system that is fair, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of all South Africans.