• Teenagers and alcohol don’t mix. What are parents’ responsibilities to ensure that their children don’t abuse alcohol? We give a variety of tips in our Community Safety feature in the June 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Tennis star Bob Hewitt found guilty 30 years after committing sexual abuse against those he coached. Read the details about what had happened in the Crime Series published in the June 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Sexting – the exchange of sexual messages or images – is a reality in schools. Teachers and learners are perpetrators and it is important to know about the dangers. Read our article in the June 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Teenage alcohol abuse combined with sexting can have devastating & deadly consequences. Parents need to get involved to prevent their children from becoming victims. Read our article in the June 2017 issue of Servamus.

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- We look at some underlying reasons

Compiled by Kotie Geldenhuys

The causes of crime are complex. We accept that poverty, domestic abuse, low self-esteem, and alcohol and drug abuse are all connected in explaining why people commit crimes. Yet, these factors do not offer a comprehensive explanation of exactly why some people resort to crime. The reasons why people commit crimes are as unique and varied as the individuals who commit them.

The age-old question of why crime exists is one that will never cease to be asked, resulting in many theories that attempt to address and explain this phenomenon. Some crimes sound so unreal, such as killing one's own spouse, child or parents, that magistrates and judges may have a hard time believing that anyone is capable of doing such a thing to their loved ones. Therefore, prosecutors must prove motive to explain what reason the accused had to commit what appears at first to be an unreasonable act. The prosecution must explain bizarre and unthinkable behaviour and prove how, and especially why, anyone would commit such an offence.


The question of "why?"

Van Zandt (2006) argues that most investigations require six basic questions to be answered: "Who", "what", "when", "where", "why" and "how". The "who" question is usually simple to answer, as that refers to the victim - the person who has been raped, robbed or murdered. The answers to the questions of "what" the perpetrator did; "when" and "where" s/he did it, and perhaps "how" s/he did it, are usually self-evident after the crime has been discovered. It is the answer to the "why" question that is often hard to determine or understand. For the purpose of this article, we are not concerned with a simple answer such as that the perpetrator needed money, was frustrated, was angry, experienced rage or is simply stupid. What we are referring to is the question that is less obvious and more difficult for us to understand - why does a person get involved in crime and what is his/her motive for committing the crime?  

Van Zandt (2006) notes that motive is sometimes the darkest chapter in the darkest book in the massive library of what we call the human mind. Motive is important because without motive, without an understanding of why people commit certain crimes in the way they do, we are left in the dark. 


Motive versus intent

According to Hicks and Sales (2006), motive can be defined in terms of three conceptual distinctions: 

  • motive versus intent;
  • the existence of a motive versus the ability of scientists to discern it; and
  • the relationship of a motive to a criminal act. 

Although it is recognised that intent and motive are related, the two terms must be distinguished. Intent refers to whether or not an offender purposefully committed a criminal act, whereas motive refers to the offender's reasons for acting. Generally speaking, motive requires the presence of intent. If an individual commits an act with purpose, then there is likely to be an explanation for that purpose. Distinction must be made between the person's motives to commit a crime and the way those motives and the crime are legally considered. 


Motives of committing crime

The typical reasons why people commit crimes include greed, anger, jealously, a desire for revenge or pride. Some people decide to commit a crime and carefully plan everything in advance to increase their gain and decrease their risk. These people make conscious choices about their behaviour. Some even consider a life of crime better than having a regular job, believing that crime brings greater rewards, admiration and excitement - at least until they are caught and convicted. Others get an adrenaline rush when they successfully carry out a dangerous crime. Others commit crimes on impulse, out of rage or fear (http://law.jrank.org/pages/12004/Causes-Crime.html#ixzz4apdLaOmi).

People who only know life in prison after years of incarceration are also likely to commit crimes in order to go back to the only "family" they know, as they have come to regard prison as a place where they feel safe and where they have access to free food, medical care and other privileges which they do not enjoy on the outside. This often results in reoffending and subsequent overcrowding of correctional facilities (see related articles about these topics from pp 14-21 and pp 22-27).  


[This is only an extract of an article that was published in the April 2017 issue of Servamus. The rest of the article discusses children’s vulnerability to crime; criminal behaviour; physique and crime; the role that chromosome imbalance plays in influencing (criminal) behaviour; mental and/or physical illness and crime and stress, illness and injury before birth. Please contact our offices at tel: (012) 345 4622/60 or send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to enquiry how to obtain the rest of the article.]

Servamus - June 2017

In April 2013, a 17-year-old girl named Rehtaeh Parsons, was removed from life support and subsequently died.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
"Can you crawl through my window? I will do whatever you want. I want it to be first-class. First-class hotel, champagne and good sex."
By Kotie Geldenhuys
It is night-time in the city. Flashing neon lights and soft streetlamps create shadowy images across the pavement.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
In May 2017, the story broke that a young 22-year-old water polo teacher at Parktown Boys High had been accused of sexually grooming and assaulting more than 20 schoolboys, aged between 15 and 16 years, at this top school in Johannesburg.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - Jun 2017

Read More - Gareth Prince, Jonathan David Rubin, Jeremy David Acton and Others v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and Others, unreported case no 8760/2013 dated 31 March 2017, Western Cape High Court (WCC)
This is the much-publicised case regarding an application by the three applicants supra, before a full bench of three judges of the High Court in Cape Town ("the court"), for a declaration that certain legislative provisions that prohibit the use, possession, purchase and cultivation for personal or communal consumption of cannabis (also referred to as "dagga" and/or "marijuana"), are invalid.
Read More - S V [Bob] Hewitt 2017 (1) SACR 309 (SCA)
This is the much-publicised case of the retired, world-renowned champion tennis player and instructor/coach, Bob Hewitt, who was convicted by the High Court in Pretoria on two counts of rape* and one count of indecent assault*.
Read More – Burford v Minister of Police, unreported case no CA 128/2015 dated 10 November 2015 (ECG)
Background Section 50 (1)(a),(b),(c) and (d)(i) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the CPA”) provides as follows:

Letters - Jun 2017

I am a retired member of the SAPS and I collect all kinds of SAPS memorabilia from the inception of the South African Police in 1913 right to the present.
I am a retired member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and I would like to purchase a blue leather uniform jacket as worn by SAPS members.
On 21 April 2017, police colleagues of D/W/O Petrus Oelofse attended his farewell function, which was hosted by the Jeffreys Bay Stock Theft Unit.
June 2017 Magazine Cover

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