• Plants can play a vital role in linking individuals to crime scenes: from the leaves we step on to the pollen that stick to our clothes. If you are curious about the secret language of plants and the link to crime scenes, be sure to read the article about Forensic Botany published in Servamus: September 2020.

  • Forensics is a fascinating science with a variety of subdisciplines that are used to link an individual to a crime scene. In an article published in Servamus: September 2020, we highlight some of the lesser known forensic disciplines.

  • Wildlife crime can be fought by using forensics, such as in poaching incidents where forensics is used to link seized rhino horn or ivory to a crime scene. If you want to read about the development of wildlife forensics, be sure to read the article in Servamus: September 2020.

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In Servamus: July 2020, Pollex published a legal quiz regarding the current/recent state of disaster. Please refer to that issue for the questions.

The answers to the quiz are as follows:
1. There is NO corresponding section in our Constitution which provides that the SAPS must be structured as a disciplined police service.

2. All members of the SAPS (including police reservists while on official duty), are peace officers in terms of section 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the CPA”), read together with the word definition of “member” as it appears in section 1 of the SAPS Act 68 of 1995.

And in terms of section 20(6) of the Defence Act 42 of 2002 (“the Defence Act”), “a member of the Defence Force who exercises any power by virtue of this section [20] must be regarded as being a peace officer as defined in section 1 of the CPA”.

As a matter of interest (not part of this quiz). A military police official is a peace officer in terms of section 31(7) of the Defence Act.

3.1 True - see section 20(3) of the Defence Act.

3.2 False - see section 31(1)(b) of the Defence Act.

3.3 The truth is that sections 9 and 41 of the now repealed Arms and Ammunition Act 75 of 1969, are replaced by sections 106, 110 and 111 of the current Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000.

3.4 The truth is that our now repealed, so-called interim Constitution of the RSA 200 of 1993, is replaced by our current Constitution of the RSA, 1996. Accordingly, one must find the corresponding section(s) (if any) in our current Constitution.

3.5 True - what must be filled in here is the “Military Ombud” established in terms of the Military Ombud Act 4 of 2012.

4. Section 20(1) of the Defence Act contains numerous powers and duties imposed on SAPS and/or Defence Force members by virtue of certain specified laws. Note that this question 4 is about powers and duties referred to in the SAPS Act 68 of 1995 and must not be confused with questions 8 and 11 infra (below).

Section 13(3)(a) of the SAPS Act 68 of 1995 - powers, duties and functions to be performed in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances;

section 13(3)(b) provides that “where a [SAPS and/or Defence Force] member who performs official duty is authorised by law to use force [in Afrikaans text: “geweld”), he or she may use only the minimum force which is reasonable in the circumstances”;

section 13(6) - search without a warrant at any place in the RSA within 10 km from any border between the RSA and any foreign state;

section 13(7) - the National or a Provincial Commissioner may, where it is reasonable in the circumstances in order to restore public order or to ensure the safety of the public in a particular area, in writing authorise that the particular area or any part thereof be cordoned off in order to search such area without a warrant;

section 13(8) - setting up of roadblocks and/or checkpoints in order to exercise, without a warrant, a power or perform a function referred to in section 215 of the now repealed, so-called interim Constitution of the RSA 200 of 1993*; and

section 13(9) - the provisions of sections 29 to 36 of the CPA, which are, inter alia, about (a) search to be conducted in decent and orderly manner (section 29 of the CPA); (b) disposal of exhibits after seizure (Afrikaans: “beslaglegging”) but before trial (section 30); and disposal of exhibits (sections 31 to 36), shall apply mutatis mutandis (with the necessary changes) in respect of a search conducted under subsections (6), (7) and (8) of section 13 of the SAPS Act supra, (above) and any object seized during such search.

Section 215 of the now repealed, so-called interim Constitution 200 of 1993, provides as follows:

“Powers and functions

215. The powers and functions of the [South African Police] Service shall be -

(a) the prevention of crime;

(b) the investigation of any offence or alleged offence;

(c) the maintenance of law and order; and

(d) the preservation of the internal security of the Republic [of South Africa].”

(Words in square brackets inserted by Pollex.)

Note that despite the repeal of the so-called interim Constitution of the RSA 200 of 1993, this section 215 of it, remains in operation by virtue of item 24(1) of Schedule 6 of our current Constitution of the RSA, 1996.

Add to this, section 205(3) of our current Constitution which provides as follows:

“205. Police service

(3) The objects of the police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law.”

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[This is only an extract of the answers to the questions published in Pollex in Servamus: September 2020. If you are interested in getting the answers to the rest of the questions, send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Contact Servamus’s office at tel: (012) 345 4660/41. Ed.]

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Servamus - September 2020

When crimes are committed, the first thing criminals want to do is to get rid of the evidence that would link them to that crime.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
When Albert du Preez Myburgh abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered his close friend's eight-year-old daughter in May 1999, he did not realise that bugs would play a role in his conviction and sentence.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
When Sinja Robin Mabitsela and Josias Xaniseka Mkansi (also known as the Alexandra Balaclava serial rapists) started their raping spree, they did not realise that their DNA would be their downfall.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Imagine how challenging it must be for scientists to identify a victim when only skeleton remains are available… now imagine how much bigger this challenge becomes for forensic anthropologists when only burnt skeleton remains are available and they have to identify these bones.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - September 2020

In Servamus: July 2020, Pollex published a legal quiz regarding the current/recent state of disaster. Please refer to that issue for the questions.

Letters - September 2020

The current COVID-19 pandemic which has affected many and claimed the lives of so many, is still continuing to be a global threat for which there is no cure.
Const Kwayo Louw (23), a policeman from Kraaifontein, was recently commended by the Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz for his exemplary contribution towards his community in Kraaifontein.
Retired W/O Sham Singh, the first Indian Station Commander of Lenasia, celebrated his 80th birthday on 9 July 2020. A milestone birthday for anyone and it was even posted on Facebook.
September 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.