• 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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By Kotie Geldenhuys

Let us be honest, many people have a love-hate relationship with insurance companies, often because they believe that they were not paid what was due to them after having submitted a claim. And then some of them are even quick to brag about how they have claimed more money from their short-term insurer than what was legally due to them as a result of the losses they had suffered following a burglary. Even if these people are then informed that they have committed insurance fraud in the process, they would not consider themselves as white-collar criminals. Those are the same types of criminals who are committing commercial crime along with those who commit corruption, extortion, money laundering, embezzlement, Internet fraud, forgery and tax evasion.

The Insurance Information Institute, based in New York, informs us that insurance fraud takes place when claimants attempt to gain benefits to which they are not entitled (III, 2020). The website FindLaw.com further explains that fraud in the context of insurance refers to any duplicitous act performed with the intent to obtain an improper payment from an insurer (https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal charges/insurance fraud.html). Fraud may be committed at different points in the transaction by applicants, policyholders, third-party claimants or professionals who provide services to claimants. The Insurance Information Institute adds that insurance fraud is not always perpetrated against the insurance company, it can also be perpetrated by an insurance company against the insured through policy churning or misleading insurance selling or by an independent agent or broker (III, 2020).

Types of insurance fraud
Insurance fraud comes in all shapes and sizes and there are countless ways in which to commit insurance fraud. According to Garth de Klerk, the CEO of the Insurance Crime Bureau (ICB), insurance fraud is committed in two ways: those who take out policies disingenuously with the intention of stealing; and those with existing policies who pretend either something was stolen when it was not or who over-inflate the values in their claims when something has legitimately been stolen (De Klerk, 2018). Insurance fraud occurs in all areas and includes:

  • life insurance through death and funeral claims, disability claims and retrenchment claims;
  • short-term insurance through vehicle claims, house content, building claims and travel claims; and
  • healthcare insurance.

During a conference hosted by the Insurance Crime Bureau in March 2020, Sedick Isaacs from the Bryte Insurance Company, mentioned soft fraud and hard fraud. Soft fraud is common and usually occurs when a policyholder exaggerates a legitimate claim to “get their money’s worth”. We can argue that soft fraud occurs when ordinary “honest” people tell “little white lies” to their insurance company for the purposes of filing or maximising a claim. For example, when a person’s house was burgled and they claim for more items than those that were actually stolen. Many people think this is a harmless act, but soft fraud is a crime and this seemingly minor offence collectively increases everyone else’s insurance premiums. Hard fraud happens when someone deliberately fakes an accident, injury, theft, arson or other loss to collect money illegally from insurance companies (https://criminal.findlaw.com/ criminal charges/insurance fraud.html). Organised crime rings increasingly stage large schemes to steal millions of rand from insurance companies.

The impact of insurance fraud
We have become accustomed to a general increase in the majority of crime categories during the annual release of the crime statistics by the SAPS. These statistics usually make for shocking reading, but what is the impact on the insurance industry?

Although insurance fraud is often taken lightly, the consequences are incredibly serious. Insurance fraud has a major impact on all stakeholders and it is ultimately the premium-paying customers who suffer most, as they carry the cost of ever-increasing premiums. An article published on Moneyweb dated 7 July 2009 stated that crime has a significant impact on the price that consumers pay for cover. “In fact, crime is one of the three main factors influencing the cost of short-term insurance. Unfortunately, short-term insurance premiums will continue to increase as long as crime, violence and fraud continue to escalate,” the article reads (Moneyweb, 2009).

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[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: August 2020. The rest of the article discusses the impact of insurance fraud; short-term insurance fraud: arson and vehicle fraud; life insurance fraud: buying and renting corpses, funeral insurance fraud and murder for insurance money; and misrepresentation. If you are interested in reading the comprehensive article, send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 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.