A jurisprudential study: proving witchcraft in Africa

Mosaka, Tshepo Bogosiboile (2021) A jurisprudential study: proving witchcraft in Africa. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Widespread incidents of mob violence that are associated with witchcraft pose significant risks towards African criminal process. The need to address the extent to which these incidents threaten the overall institutional legitimacy of African criminal process constitutes the principal motivation behind the project of this thesis. This thesis identifies three major sets of challenges that are complained about by African communities. These pertain to (1) the relevant institutional practices that are to be followed in witchcraft cases (institutional); (2) the legal meaning of witchcraft (material); and (3) the evidential heuristics or processes of proof that are required to prove the direct crime of witchcraft (probative). These institutional, material and probative challenges are then summarised into a single overall thesis question: how can the direct crime of witchcraft be proven in Africa?

This thesis embarks upon an Afrocentric Jurisprudential (theoretical) study in order to develop heuristics for the evidential proof of witchcraft in criminal cases in Africa. The kind of Jurisprudence undertaken in this thesis constitutes a prescriptive, middle-order level of theorising in that the proof heuristics that are developed take the form of argumentation schemes that are to be applied in witchcraft trials in Africa. The overall answer given to the main thesis question takes the form of an argument, a defeasible modus ponens, that is underpinned by a broad conception of (evidential) proof. The argument is that:

(1) Generally speaking, if the relevant African institutional, material and probative (IMP) practices can be shown to be adhered to, then the plausibility of the evidential proof of the direct crime of witchcraft (P(w)) would have been established;

(2) this thesis shows how the relevant IMP practices can be adhered to;

(3) therefore, the plausibility of P(w) has been established by this thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Roberts, Paul
Jackson, John
Keywords: Evidence, Proof, Witchcraft, Africa, Argumentation, Plausibility
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
K Law > KQ Africa
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Law
Item ID: 64741
Depositing User: Mosaka, Tshepo
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2023 12:14
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2023 12:14
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/64741

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