• 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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Collecting evidence to put the puzzle together
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Despite Hollywood’s portrayal in numerous television programmes, crime scene investigation is a difficult and time-consuming task that cannot be completed in a couple of minutes. Crime scene investigation should be done correctly and while paying attention to the detail from the start, as there is no such luxury as to continue with the processing of a crime scene for days on end. The purpose of crime scene investigation is to establish what happened when the crime was committed, to identify the responsible person by carefully documenting the conditions at a crime scene and recognising all relevant physical evidence. All of these elements can put together the puzzle so that justice can be served.

The success of an investigation depends on how thoroughly and meticulously the crime scene has been investigated. Crime scene investigation is a painstaking process which consists of various phases:

  • The pre-investigation phase starts when the first police official arrives at the crime scene and it includes the walk-through phase.
  • The investigation phase starts with the searching and documentation of the crime scene as well as the collection of evidence.
  • The post-investigation phase is the finalisation of the crime scene search, including a final walk-through to determine whether all determined outcomes have been achieved and that all investigative processes have been completed. Thereafter the crime scene is released and handed back to the owner of the premises or responsible person and the process starts of analysing the evidence by a trained forensic expert (Lochner and Zinn, 2015).

According to Lochner, Horne and Zinn (2020), the objectives of crime scene investigation “is to systematically and carefully identify, recognise, recover, collect, interpret and reconstruct all the physical evidence, facts and clues available at the crime scene ... to ensure that the location of the evidence is accounted for from the scene to after the disposal of the evidence ... and to find the truth and to link or clear a suspect to a crime”.

Additional objectives of crime scene investigation include the determination of the modus operandi of the perpetrator, ascertaining the logical sequence of events, reconstruction of the crime scene and uncovering the motive of the crime among other things (Lochner et al, 2020).

Crime scene examination is the daunting task of trained crime scene examiners from the Criminal Record Centre (CRC) who, together with the investigating officer, usually only have one chance to identify and collect the material needed by the courts as evidence. It is unlikely to recover evidence later if it had not been identified and recovered during the initial investigation of the crime scene. Forensic evidence such as DNA or bullets, fibres, hairs or paint flakes, might be lost if it is not located soon after the crime has been committed (Phago, 2017).

Swanson, Chamelin, Territon and Taylor (2012) mention the following administrative procedures for crime scene processing:

  • Recognition;
  • identification of physical evidence;
  • documentation of evidence location through sketches and photographs;
  • collection, marking and packaging of evidence; and
  • establishing the chain of evidence or control during all stages of handling the evidence.

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[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: August 2021. The rest of the article discusses issues relating to recording and documenting a crime scene; crime scene photos and sketches; the identification of evidence; and the importance of ethics. 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.