• 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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This month's crime series shows us once again how religion can be abused and used to cloak criminal acts. When Cecilia Steyn started her own "ministry" called "Electus Per Deus" (Chosen by God) in 2012 to take revenge on Ria Grunewald, it also marked the start of the religious group's criminal activities, which included the bombing of vehicles, robbery, fraud and murder. All these criminal acts were performed in the name of their so-called religion. (Refer to part 1 of this month's Crime Series published from p44 in Servamus: July 2020.)

By Kotie Geldenhuys

Religion and faith help to guide and shape our view of the world and provide values that direct our behaviour. It is generally accepted that religion works for the greater good, but it can also be the total opposite. Crimes are often committed in the name of religion - in fact, wars have been fought in the name of religion. Unfortunately, those who are part of these groups are brainwashed and indoctrinated by the leader(s) of the religious groups, often to such an extent that they are not able to realise that they are actually involved in or committing crime.

When crimes are committed in the name of religion, one cannot help to think about cults. The word “cult” can be used in many ways and distinctions are drawn between different types of cults. The two broad categories are religious cults which include Christian, Eastern and satanic cults and non-religious cults which include business, educational, personality, political and even UFO (unknown foreign objects) cults. In an article that was published in the Ned Geref Theological Magazine, Dr Pretorius explains that cults are described in terms of the threat they pose or the harm they can inflict on society. Harmful or abusive cults are those groups whose teachings and practices are not only different from societal and/or theological norms but are also believed to exert strong social and psychological pressure, which can make individuals do things that they would not have considered doing prior to joining the group (Pretorius, 2012).

Dr Pretorius goes on to explain that one deals with a cult if the following occurs:

  • The followers display excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader. The leader’s belief system, ideology and practices are viewed as the truth, as law.
  • No questioning of the doctrine or doubt is tolerated and dissent is discouraged and even punished.
  • Any doubts about the group and its leader(s) must be suppressed and mind-altering practices (including meditation and chanting, denunciation sessions and debilitating work routines) are used.
  • Followers are dictated to in terms of their thoughts, actions and feelings. They need permission to date, change jobs, leave the premises or marry. Leaders are also prescriptive in terms of the clothes their followers wear, where they live, whether or not they may have children and their children’s discipline.
  • The group displays an elite mentality which means that it claims a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and followers. The leader is viewed as the messiah, a special being on a special mission to save humanity.
  • A polarised us-versus-them mentality is displayed by the group.
  • Total commitment to the leader or group requires followers to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter or abandon personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
  • The group is preoccupied with making money.
  • Followers are expected to spend inordinate amounts of time with the group and to engage in group-related activities.
  • Socialising of followers is only to take place with other group members (Pretorius, 2012).

Why do people get involved in a cult?
British psychologist, Dr Linda Dubrow Marshall and her psychologist husband Prof Rod Dubrow Marshall, who both conducted research on the psychology of undue influence and coercive persuasion (such as which is used by cults and extremist groups) argue that people do not see and react on an advert for an “abusive and murderous cult” or “how to end your life in trafficked drudgery”.

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[This is only an excerpt of an article published in Servamus: July 2020. The rest of the article focuses on more reasons why people get involved in a cult; how cult leaders control their followers; the crimes committed by cults; the fact that cult leaders do not get their hands dirty; and we ask: what next? Is there life after the cult? If you are interested in reading the full article, send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact our office at tel: 012 345 4660/22 to find out what to do. 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.