• The reality of prisons for many inmates is far from hoping to be rehabilitated. Instead, the reality is one of trying to protect oneself from the violence perpetrated on the inside. Read our article about the shocking reality of prison violence in the August 2017 issue of Servamus.

    The reality of prisons for many inmates is far from hoping to be rehabilitated. Instead, the reality is one of trying to protect oneself from the violence perpetrated on the inside. Read our article about the shocking reality of prison violence in the August 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Some people seem to choose a life of violent crime. We ask whether it is due to an antisocial personality disorder or genes or whether other factors are at play. Read this interesting article in the August 2017 issue of Servamus.

    Some people seem to choose a life of violent crime. We ask whether it is due to an antisocial personality disorder or genes or whether other factors are at play. Read this interesting article in the August 2017 issue of Servamus.

  • Commercial crime is often regarded as “not so serious”. We prove the opposite in an article featured in the August 2017 issue of Servamus by giving a South African perspective to this very serious crime and the impact it has on the community and economy.

    Commercial crime is often regarded as “not so serious”. We prove the opposite in an article featured in the August 2017 issue of Servamus by giving a South African perspective to this very serious crime and the impact it has on the community and economy.

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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).  

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[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 - August 2017

Asanda Baninzi and Wox Mthuthuzeli Nombewu hijacked a sergeant based at the Langebaan Airforce Base and his girlfriend, then drove them to the Mawumawu area in Nyanga.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Who will be the next National Commissioner of the SAPS? That is the question on many concerned South Africans' lips - especially those of police members, researchers and the SAPS's partners in the fight against crime.
By Annalise Kempen
Normal, healthy people seldom dream about death. They do not see crime scenes and dead people when they close their eyes.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
For a period of 11 years the serial rapist and murderer, Jimmy Maketta, terrorised communities in the Philippi area near Cape Town.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - August 2017

Read More - S v Parkins 2017 (1) SACR 235 (WCC)
Bradley Parkins (“the accused”) was convicted in the regional court sitting at Wynberg in the Cape Peninsula (“the trial court”) on the following six charges:
Read More - S v Mabitle 2017 (1) SACR 325 (NWM) and S v Monye and Another 2017 (1) SACR 329 (SCA)
In Ask Pollex in Servamus: August 2015, Pollex referred to a number of reported cases in respect of “contract killings”.
Read More In Servamus: June 2017, Pollex discussed the case of S v Hewitt 2017 (1) SACR 309 (SCA) (“the Hewitt case”). (The case involved the retired, world-renowned champion tennis player and instructor, Bob Hewitt.)
The Hewitt case was about three female complainants of whom two were raped and one was sexually assaulted (this offence was known as indecent assault at the time).
This month sees the last of our series of unlawful arrest and detention cases.

Letters - August 2017

Read More - An update (Servamus: December 2016
The telephone rings sharply in the charge office of Kliptown Police Station. The sergeant on duty looks up at the old clock hanging above the fireplace.
From 13 to 16 June 2017, members of the South African Police Service embarked on a trip to Mossel Bay for the Inter Provincial Soccer Championship, which was held at the D'Almeida sports ground.
Fathers’ Day was celebrated this year on 18 June, and I decided to run a special project under Social Crime Prevention for the fathers at Westville SAPS, with the wonderful support of some very gracious sponsors.
August 2017 Magazine Cover

Servamus' Mission

Servamus is a community-based safety and security magazine for both members of the community as well as safety and security practitioners with the aim of increasing knowledge and sharing information, dedicated to improving their expertise, professionalism and service delivery standards. It promotes sound crime management practices, freedom of speech, education, training, information sharing and a networking platform.