Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

The ongoing challenge of restorative justice in South Africa: How and why wealthy suburban congregations are responding to poverty and inequality

Nadine F. Bowers du Toit, Grace Nkomo
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 2 | a2022 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i2.2022 | © 2014 Nadine F. Bowers du Toit, Grace Nkomo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 June 2013 | Published: 19 March 2014

About the author(s)

Nadine F. Bowers du Toit, Department Practical Theology and Missiology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Grace Nkomo, Department Human Ecology, University of the Western Cape, South Africa


South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world and any discussion around poverty and the church’s response cannot exclude this reality. This article attempts to analyse the response of wealthy, ‘majority white’ suburban congregations in the southern suburbs of Cape Town to issues of poverty and inequality. This is attempted through the lense of restorative justice, which is broadly explored and defined through a threefold perspective of reconciliation, reparations and restitution. The first part explores a description of the basic features of poverty and inequality in South Africa today, followed by a discussion on restorative justice. This is followed by the case study, which gives the views of clergy and lay leaders with regard to their congregations’ perspectives and responses to poverty and inequality within the context of restorative justice. Findings from the case study begin to plot a tentative ‘way forward’ as to how our reality can more constructively be engaged from the perspective of congregational involvement in reconstruction of our society.


restorative justice; restitution; reparation; reconciliation; inequality; poverty


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Crossref Citations

1. Diagnosing and dismantling South African whiteness: ‘white work’ in the Dutch Reformed Church
Louis R. Van der Riet, Wilhelm Verwoerd
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 78  issue: 4  year: 2022  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v78i4.7402