• Prevention is key to protecting our homes from fire. In this month’s Community Safety Tips published from p52 in Servamus: September 2021, we share information about the common causes of fire and what you have to do in case of fire.

  • It can be a headache for authorities to identify the bodies of deceased persons. article published from p22 in Servamus: September 2021 provides valuable information on how forensic science and databases can be used in the identification process.

  • With their keen sense of smell, biological body-fluid detection dogs play a vital role at rape and murder crime scenes. Our article published from p18 in Servamus: September 2021 explains their training, work and successes along with their human partners.

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The first step to ensure justice for victims
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Every crime scene tells a story which is why it is of utmost importance that proper crime scene management is implemented to prevent the destruction of any evidence that might be found at a scene. A crime scene should always be treated as “holy ground” simply because it is the first step in bringing justice to crime victims.

In the murder case against O J Simpson, a poorly managed crime scene, evidence that was mishandled and the subsequent chain of custody requirements that were not adhered to, resulted in the acquittal of the accused. O J Simpson, a former American football player and actor, was accused of murdering his former wife, Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in June 1994. He was arrested, but later acquitted as it was revealed in court that the police did not follow proper crime scene investigation procedures (Abdollah, 2014).

The first problem arose when police first responders used the victim, Nicole Simpson’s telephone at the murder scene to report the crime. Through this action, they compromised fingerprints and DNA evidence. The next flaw was when detectives covered Nicole Simpson's body with a blanket which compromised evidence such as fibre and/or hair that could have been used as evidence. The detectives also did not wear any personal protective gear at the scene. A police video taken of the crime scene further showed how investigating officers dropped blood swabs and wiped tweezers with their hands. Approximately three weeks after the murder, a blood stain found on a gate, was swabbed. During the trial, the defence also objected to the fact that crime scene experts did not change their protective gloves between the handling of exhibits and blood samples. According to the defence, this negligent behaviour of crime scene experts was the reason why O J Simpson’s blood was mixed with that of the victim (Innes, 2003).

According to Henry Lee, the forensic expert who testified for the defence during the Simpson trial, there was no lack of evidence but the source of evidence was not always explained and it was not closely tracked. Blood on a pair of socks which was collected from O J Simpson's bedroom, was only noticed two months later at the crime laboratory, resulting in defence experts suggesting that the blood was smeared on the socks while they were lying flat and not while they were worn. The defence also claimed that police forensic examiners did not pack evidence samples properly and also left them in an overheated van on a summer’s day. The majority of the evidence was collected by a novice crime scene examiner. There were also complaints about police detective Philip Vannatter’s actions after he had drawn O J Simpson’s blood at the Los Angeles Police Department on the day after the murders. Instead of booking it into evidence immediately, he had put the blood vial in his pocket and went to Simpson’s home where crime scene examiners were collecting evidence. He carried it around with him for hours resulting in the defence arguing that it may have been used to plant evidence such as blood drops on Simpson’s front walkway (Abdollah, 2014).

The O J Simpson case is a textbook example of what not to do at a crime scene. Sadly, similar mistakes have happened in several South African cases. In the Oscar Pistorius case, for example, SAPS members were criticised for negligent work at the scene of crime. This included that the police failed to find one of the bullets in the toilet cubicle of the en suite bathroom of the accused's bedroom, but which was later found by the defence’s own investigators. There was also a claim that a police official handled the suspected murder weapon without wearing gloves (refer to the Crime Series published in Servamus: August 2016). Proper crime scene management is important to eliminate such serious mistakes by law enforcement officials on a crime scene which can jeopardise the outcome of a case.

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[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: August 2021. The rest of the article deals with the crime scene as the most important part of the investigation; first responders and first police members on the scene; the crime scene management process and the final walk-through. If you want to find out how you can read the rest of this article, send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..]

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Servamus - September 2021

The relatives of a Pietermaritzburg couple, who were shot dead in their bakkie on Old Greytown Road in March 2021, were angry when a young, close relative discovered a video making rounds on social media platforms showing the grisly scene.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
These days the media is able to cover almost every aspect of the criminal justice system, from the bloody crime scene and the arrest of the perpetrator, to the trial and eventually the sentencing of the perpetrator.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Blood dripping from stairs like waterfalls and maimed bodies; decomposed bodies covered with maggots; small children crying out in pain after being raped by someone they trus-ted; and women with bruised faces and bodies who shamefully try to hide their pain and humiliation are just a few scenarios that police members come across when they are called to a crime scene.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
One of the most familiar cold cases, which still boggles South Africans’ minds after all these years, is the Gert van Rooyen and Joey Haarhoff case, when at least six young girls mysteriously disappeared in the late 1980s.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - September 2021

Act 7 of 2021 supra appears in English and Afrikaans in Government Gazette No 44650 dated 1 June 2021. It amends the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998.
This Act 2 of 2020 is discussed comprehensively in Ask Pollex in Servamus: October 2020.
Read More - S v Josephs 2021(1) SACR 450 (WCC)
Relevant legislation Section 302 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the CPA”) provides as follows:
Read More - S v Tiry and Eight Others 2021(1) SACR 349 (SCA)
Factual background The principal complainants in this matter are Sasol and Engen who are producers of petroleum products.

Letters - September 2021

When police members turn 60, they are legally obliged to go on pension. Yet, that does not mean that they are "old".
Pollex noticed the following two letters in the regional newspaper Tyger Burger, dated 2 June 2021, which circulates in the Northern Suburbs in the Cape Peninsula.
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.