• 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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Hacked to death with a panga - that was how Ed Neumeister, the 67-year-old owner of a restaurant in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal was killed in broad daylight on the first Saturday of June 2020 (Regchand, 2020).

Mutilated by her estranged husband, Johan Kotze, it was a mere miracle that Ina Bonnette survived the atrocious deeds perpetrated by the Modimolle Monster as he cut off her nipple with a small saw; took out a nail to push it into that raw wound before cutting her private parts with a side-cutter (Geldenhuys, 2014).

By Annalise Kempen

It is almost impossible to make sense of the facts of what had happened to victims when one reads about how they have been dehumanised. Is it even possible for one human to inflict so much pain to another human being? Do torturers want to command some power over their victims or should we accept that they are cruel and inhumane individuals?

What is torture?
Many Hollywood movies show how intelligence services or police agencies use torture techniques to interrogate their subjects to get information from them. Does that make the members of these agencies criminal or is torture justified when used by the authorities? To answer these questions, it is important to have an understanding of “torture” which is described as “the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do or say something” (Oxford Dictionary). Article 1 of the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture describes torture as: Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him (or her) or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him (or her) for an act he (or she) or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him (or her) or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions (Williams and Van der Merwe, 2013). These two authors note that this definition has been extended to include violence by unofficial agents, as in civil conflict, but that all definitions refer to intentional infliction of pain and/or suffering. The Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Act 13 of 2013 uses a similar definition as the UN Convention against Torture.

The Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Act 13 of 2013 which came into operation in July 2013, criminalises torture, whereas prior to the enactment of this statute, anyone who was found guilty of torture would have been charged with other crimes, such as assault, rape, culpable homicide or murder (SAHRC, Nd). According to section 3 of Act 13 of 2013,

“(1) Any person who -

(a) commits torture;

(b) attempts to commit torture; or

(c) incites, instigates, commands or procures any person to commit torture, is guilty of the offence of torture and is on conviction liable to imprisonment, including imprisonment for life.

(2) Any person who participates in torture, or who conspires with a public official to aid or procure the commission of or to commit torture, is guilty of the offence of torture and is on conviction liable to imprisonment, including imprisonment for life.

(3) Despite any other law to the contrary, including customary international law, the fact that an accused person –

(a) is or was a head of state or government, a member of a government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official; or

(b) was under a legal obligation to obey a manifestly unlawful order of a government or superior, is neither a defence to a charge of committing an offence referred to in this section, nor a ground for any possible reduction of sentence, once that person has been convicted of such offence.

(4) No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, including but not limited to, a state of war, threat of war, internal political instability, national security or any state of emergency may be invoked as a justification for torture.

(5) No one shall be punished for disobeying an order to commit torture.”

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[This is only an excerpt of an article published in Servamus: July 2020. The rest of the article discusses the security services and torture; the psychology behind torture; the impact of torture on victims; and how torturers are also affected. 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.