Sipho Mbuqe

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2010


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Leswin Laubscher

Committee Member

Michael Sipiora

Committee Member

Roger Brooke


"Necklacing", Apartheid, Discourse, Political Violence, Racism, Ubuntu


This dissertation examines certain psychological dimensions and implications of political violence in general by means of a specific violent incident that took place in Colesberg, South Africa in 1985. Ms. Nokwakha Dilato was murdered by a group of people who poured gasoline over her body, placed a car tire, filled with gasoline, around her neck and shoulders, and set her alight - a practice known as "necklacing", and which became widespread during that time as a way of killing suspected or confirmed collaborators with the Apartheid regime. Three sources of data about this event were analyzed for this dissertation. First, I conducted a series of interviews with three of the perpetrators; second, I analyzed the court transcripts of the trial and sentencing of the perpetrators, and thirdly, I examined a report of the incident, presented to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and related by the author and poet, Antjie Krog, in a book about the Commission's proceedings. These texts were subjected to a qualitative hermeneutic semiology, as articulated by Hugh Silverman (1994). In brief, the texts were interrogated as to how it made meaning of the event. From this analysis, a broader tension, reported on in the literature review, was echoed; on the one hand psychological theories of violence, focusing as it does on the individual, misses the crucial mediating and situated importance of context, while contextual theories (such as those of sociology and anthropology), neglect the agency and subjectivity of the individual. Moreover, analysis reveals a particular ethical and moral component to political violence, and violence in general, which is explicated on the basis of the African philosophical notion of Ubuntu, and the Levinasian sense of the face.