• It is impossible to understand how parents can physically abuse and neglect their own children, and yet it happens. We remind our readers about what child abuse entails in a comprehensive article published in Servamus: May 2020.

    It is impossible to understand how parents can physically abuse and neglect their own children, and yet it happens. We remind our readers about what child abuse entails in a comprehensive article published in Servamus: May 2020.

  • The Springs Monster case is probably one of the worst child abuse cases in recent years. We bring you the first part of this crime series in the May 2020 issue of Servamus. A shocking, must-read for all.

    The Springs Monster case is probably one of the worst child abuse cases in recent years. We bring you the first part of this crime series in the May 2020 issue of Servamus. A shocking, must-read for all.

  • Bullying and cyberbullying are realities for children across the world. We explain the details of both types in detail and what could be done to identify and prevent it. Be informed and read both articles in Servamus: May 2020

    Bullying and cyberbullying are realities for children across the world. We explain the details of both types in detail and what could be done to identify and prevent it. Be informed and read both articles in Servamus: May 2020

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By Kotie Geldenhuys

It boggles one's mind when the innocence of a child meets the severity of a violent crime like murder. Yet, there are a number of cases in South Africa where children became brutal murderers. It included the case where learners from the Waterkloof Hoërskool, namely Reinach Tiedt, Gert van Schalkwyk, Christoff Becker and Frikkie du Preez, who were aged between 14 and 16 at the time, murdered a homeless man in a park in the east of Pretoria in December 2001. They later became known as the Waterkloof Four (Sosibo, 2014). Then there was the shocking incident that happened in April 2012, when 15-year-old Don Steenkamp murdered his mother, father and sister on their farm outside Griekwastad in the Northern Cape (Kwan Hoo, 2014). At the time when they committed their crimes, these murderers where minors and protected under the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008.

The Waterkloof Four and the Griekwastad cases are only two of the many cases in which children committed violent crimes. It is worrying that there has been an increase in the number of cases where children became murderers during the past year in South Africa. When the annual crime statistics were released by the SAPS in September 2019, Maj-Gen Norman Sekhukhune who heads the SAPS's Research and Statistics Component, noted that a shocking 736 of the 21 022 murders recorded by the SAPS between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019 were committed by children - younger than 18. He added that another statistic that is of concern is the number of common assaults committed by children which stood at 4196 (Makinana and Makhetha, 2019).

No respect
Reports about children stabbing one another with scissors and knives at schools or killing family members are no longer isolated incidents and it makes one wonder what is happening to our children. Do they have proper role-models or are their role-models neglecting their task to teach children about respect and care for fellow human beings? One of the possible explanations is that many children grow up in environments where violence has almost become normalised. Gareth Newham, who is the Head of the Justice and Violence Prevention programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) reminds us that "if children watch their mothers and family members being beaten in front of them, it creates anger in them and they lash out against whoever that might aggravate their emotions" (Makinana and Makhetha, 2019).

Zita Hansungule, a Senior Project Coordinator at the Centre for Child Law (CCL) at the University of Pretoria agrees that one of the biggest factors that contributes to children acting violently is being exposed to violence themselves. "A lot of violent behaviour in children can be attributed to what children are exposed to, their environment they grow up in. Children could be exposed to violence, gang violence, drug abuse - all of those affect how a child responds," she notes (Grobler, 2019).

Murder is such an extreme form of crime and the motivation for adult murderers may remain a mystery even after they have been convicted. Finding the motivation of what had pushed a child to commit murder can be even more difficult. Some of the reasons that have been noted among child murderers include being a victim of abuse, having a family member with a criminal record, suffering from a traumatic loss, having a history of disruptive behaviour, witnessing or experiencing violence (such as domestic violence, child abuse and gang violence) and/or being rejected or abandoned by a parent. Experiencing problems at the home can be particularly influential. If a child witnesses or experiences violence, they are likely to repeat violence in other situations (Muller, 2015). Ms Hansungule pointed out that it should not be assumed that all children who are exposed to violence will become violent themselves, but that research has shown that children who commit crime are acting out what they are being exposed to. Patrick Burton, the Executive Director at the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP) in Cape Town, added that "different children respond differently" (Grobler, 2019). In this article we will look briefly at some of the factors that might impact children to act out violently and the justice system's response in dealing with these dangerous children.

The role of parents
Apart from the violence children are exposed to in their houses and neighbourhoods, they might also become involved in crime when they search for something they do not get at home. Parents are often so caught up in life's rat race and concerned about their individual well-being that they have little concern for their children's well-being. Financial welfare is sometimes higher on parents' agenda than their own children. Parents have a responsibility to teach children discipline as it builds balanced, strong individuals who do not easily succumb to peer pressure or bad influences. This requires from parents to be involved in their children's lives. When parents do not play their role, children may follow examples from other family members, peers and social groups (Secure Teen, 2017).

It runs in the family
There is a general perception that when a child has a parent with a history of criminal behaviour, the child is likely to follow in his or her parent's footsteps. A study conducted by Sytske Besemer, a criminological researcher at Uber in San Francisco, about the intergenerational transfer of criminal behaviour, found that children of criminal parents had a 2.4 times greater chance of becoming involved in crime than children with law-abiding parents. After the figures had been screened for other factors, such as socioeconomic status, family size, teenage parenthood, conflict with parents, level of education and child abuse, children with criminal parents still had a 1.8 times greater chance of breaking the law (NWO, 2017). Yablonsky (2000) claims that most boys who get involved in criminal activities had no positive adult role-models, as their fathers, older brothers and uncles have been involved in drugs and gangs and were in and out of correctional facilities.

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[This is only an excerpt of an article published in Servamus: May 2020. The rest of the article looks into anti-social personality disorder; when the victim becomes the perpetrator; the role of violent entertainment; criminal capacity; and options to deal with young offenders. If you are interested in reading the full article, send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out what to do. Ed.]

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Servamus - May 2020

It was a difficult start to the 2020 school year. In Gauteng, several learners had died in various tragic accidents.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
When the news broke in January 2020 about a schoolboy who had drowned during a school orientation camp in North West, many parents were impacted by the fact that something similar could so easily happen to their own children.
By Annalise Kempen
It boggles one's mind when the innocence of a child meets the severity of a violent crime like murder.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Do you realise that bullying is a form of child abuse? It is so serious that the legislature specifically mentions it in the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 where “abuse”, in relation to a child, means any form of harm or ill-treatment deliberately inflicted on a child, and includes bullying by another child.
By Annalise Kempen

Pollex - May 2020

Read More - S V Garland 2019 (2) SACR 162 (WCC)
Mr Garland, the accused, is currently approximately 26 years old. On 24 June 2011, when he was 17 years old, he was apprehended in his mother’s residence in the town of Montagu*, for the unlawful possession of a small quantity of cannabis (dagga).
Read More - Msongelwa V Minister of Police (112/2012) [2020] ZAECMHC 10 (17 March 2020) (EMC)
The plaintiff (Afrikaans: “eiser”), Mr Nkululeko Msongelwa, was arrested on 7 August 2011 at a tavern in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, where he and his friends were enjoying themselves.
In recent years, South Africa has had its fair share of disasters (Afrikaans: “rampe”).

Letters - May 2020

My chains are gone I've been set free My God, my Saviour has ransomed me And like a flood, His mercy rains Unending love, Amazing Grace
Read More Maj-Gen Tertius Geldenhuys (7 May 1955 to 14 April 2020)
The South African Police Service mourns the tragic loss of Maj-Gen Tertius Geldenhuys who passed away on 14 April 2020.
Oom Piet Kleu, a 94-year-old former provincial road traffic inspector, invited by Daniel Seevaraj, a former police member who also became a prominent senior Pietermaritzburg road traffic inspector, graced our presence at our last meeting of retired police officers at Chistlehurst Academics and Arts.
Read More Huldeblyk - Jan Willem (Toffie) Jansen van Vuuren (6 Januarie 1952 - 18 Maart 2020)
”Dis die enigste manier om vooruit te gaan in die lewe - studeer, studeer, studeer … Studies gee vir mens kennis, en kennis is mag.”
May 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.