Restorative justice is a well understood concept. Internationally, its theory and practice have been substantially documented, and it has withstood critical analysis. There has been a movement amongst even those that would be expected to be its harshest critics, just deserts theorists, to engage in a good faith attempt to reconcile the competing paradigms. In South Africa, restorative justice has moved from the margins to take its place as a subject of serious academic debate in criminal justice. It has also featured in a promising jurisprudence that is emerging from the country's superior courts. The article explains how certain local developments in practice, as well as the Child Justice Bill, promote the application of restorative justice across all stages of the criminal justice system. Restorative justice and sentencing policy is explored against the South African Law Reform Commission's proposals for a sentencing framework. Rehabilitation is the final issue tackled. Despite its loss of credibility in recent decades, rehabilitation as a concept still looms large on the South African criminal justice landscape. Restorative justice offers a different view on how to promote the aim of a crime-free life for the offender, and South African criminal justice practitioners and researchers are urged to engage in the discovery of realistic community centred models.