This chapter explores South Africa’s dilemma, namely that its incremental progress and growth are undermined by ongoing and systemic armed violence and inequality. It applies the emerging optic of armed violence prevention, which focuses on understanding and addressing the contributing and inhibiting drivers of armed violence.
This chapter is divided into two main sections. The first provides an overview of trends in armed violence since 1994, focusing on the most recent available data, covering 2011–12. It also draws on research from other contexts to highlight some of the factors that appear to contribute to or inhibit armed violence generally. The second section concentrates on factors that appear most relevant to the South African context and assesses national policies to prevent gun violence, policing challenges, and civil society armed violence prevention efforts. It closes with reflections on the possible directions for future research and prevention activities.