• 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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Compiled by Annalise Kempen

South Africans often grapple with terminology in the legal and judicial space as some have differing international applications and the public tend to believe the version they see on television. Oftentimes the public simply do not have the legal knowledge to understand these terms or concepts which could eventually be to their detriment, if they find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

How to know if you are accused of an offence
Many people believe that if they are charged with an offence the police will come to their house or workplace and arrest them, that is if they are not arrested at the scene of the crime. In such a case, the accused will be kept in custody until his or her first court appearance. Alternatively, an accused will be informed of a charge through a summons or a written notice which will call upon him or her to appear in court on a specific day and time.

What do I have to know?
Legal Wise (Nd) informs us that a summons is a document which informs an accused of the charge against him or her and will order the accused to appear in court. This summons will be issued by the clerk of the court and delivered to the accused by someone who is authorised to do so, such as a police official. It has to be delivered at least 14 days before the start of the criminal trial.

A prosecutor can decide whether the summons will include the option of an admission of guilt fine (refer to p 51), which may be included in the summons only in circumstances where the prosecutor is of the opinion that a court will not grant a fine that is more than R10 000 for the relevant charge.

A summons will typically be issued in cases where the accused is not going to be arrested and if the prosecutor believes that the accused will:

  • appear in court as ordered by the summons;
  • not interfere with the police’s investigations; and/or
  • not try to influence any State witnesses that might be used in the criminal trial.

A written notice is a document informing the accused to appear in court in respect of a charge and includes an option of an admission of guilt fine. A police official will issue a written notice if he or she is of the opinion that a court will not grant a fine of more than R5000 for the relevant criminal charge. This written notice will be issued by a police official and given directly to the accused in the case of a minor offence, such as after a motorist has been stopped for exceeding the speed limit.

What do I have to do?
An accused person who has received a summons or written notice has the option to either appear in court or pay the admission of guilt fine. If the latter option is chosen, that person does not have to appear in court as long as this fine is paid before the court date at the clerk of the relevant court or the police station.

If an accused fails to appear in court on the specified date and time, a warrant of arrest (a document that authorises the arrest of the accused) will be issued by the court. If the accused does not have a reasonable excuse for failing to appear in court, such as being sick in hospital, the court will regard it as an (additional) offence and the accused can be given a fine of R300 or be sentenced to incarceration for a period of three months.

Admission of guilt fine
Imagine being arrested after having been involved in a fist fight at a bar. Not wanting to get a criminal record for assault or wanting to go to prison, the police gives you the option to pay an admission of guilt fine. If you think that paying the fine would be the end of your legal troubles, you would be mistaken.


[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: April 2020 from pp 50-53. The rest of the article informs readers about admission of guilt fines, bail and expungement of criminal records as well as what you have to know and what you have to do in each case. If you are interested in reading the rest of this comprehensive article, send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  to find out how. 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.