Lourens Schlebusch and Brenda Ann Bosch
South Africa in the last decade has been epitomized by a transformed social order and unprecedented political developments. The unthinkable occurred when the political order changed through peaceful negotiations from apartheid (official racial segregation) to a full democracy. Unfortunately, this transformation did not preclude an escalation in violence, with resultant trauma. It therefore seems appropriate in this chapter to examine aspects of the South African situation in regard to the universal features of the psychology of terrorism, given the country’s legacy of trauma in both the apartheid and post-apartheid eras against the backdrop of international terrorism.
It has been strongly argued that dealing with stress and trauma solutions requires a collective multi-dimensional approach (Schlebusch, 1998, 2000). Violence and crime resulting in stress and trauma remain major public issues in South African society (Baird, 1999; Barolsky, 1999; Landman, 2000; Louw, 1999; Shaw, 2000) whether they occur in families, the community, institutions, or society at large and whether they result in direct or indirect exposure. The 1998 National Victims of Crime Survey revealed a pervasive quality of violence in South African society indicative of a high level of interpersonal conflict (Barolsky, 1999). According to the latest Crime Intelligence Analysis (Green, 2000), there is a seven-in-ten chance that South Africans will have their property stolen and a one-in-ten chance that they will be a victim of serious violent crime. This gives rise to elevated levels of trauma. Human trauma, being as old as humanity, is rooted in interaction, on interpersonal, group, or collective levels—locally, nationally, and internationally.