• Physical evidence is the silent witness in criminal cases which is why it should not be contaminated and why the chain of custody is vital. Read our article published from p20 in Servamus: August 2021 to learn more about evidence and the story it tells.

  • The reconstruction of a crime scene is a vital step to give the court an idea of what happened at a crime scene. Our article published from p34 in Servamus: August 2021 explains what the process entails.

  • Various role-players from within the SAPS can help to provide specialised information about the scene, the victim and the suspect at a crime scene. Our article published from p23 in Servamus: August 2021 highlights these role-players.

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Compiled by Kotie Geldenhuys
Photos by Jordy Meow; and Mattia Ascenzo on Unsplash

At the end of Congo's factional war in 2004, soldiers attacked the village where 16-year-old Mukuninwa lived. They tortured and killed the men of the village, while the women's clothes were stripped from their bodies. Their arms and legs were staked to the ground and as the soldiers passed, they raped the women. Some of the women were also sexually assaulted with sticks and rifle barrels. The pain these women endured was so intense that some of them passed out. But the soldiers were quick to revive them with buckets of water. Mukuninwa is unsure about how many men raped her during captivity (Baker, 2016).

The crime of rape being committed during war is as old as war itself. At the end of World War II in 1945, Soviet forces entered Berlin and sexually assaulted and raped more than two million German women (Deller, 2017). Since the end of World War II, wars and conflicts have become a harsh reality of our lives and we often hear about reports of new conflicts and escalated tensions between two or more nations. The act of rape is continuously being used as a weapon, as a war strategy, as a way to terrorise, as a method to torture and as an effective tool to destroy communities.

Reasons why rape is used as a weapon
Hiba Zaheer and Erika Yagnik from the Faculty of Law at the Aligarh Muslim University in India argue that sexual violence in the form of rape is considered as a weapon even more powerful than a bomb or a bullet. They added that a “reason for rape during the times of war is to assert the masculinity of the perpetrators over the victims” (Zaheer and Yagnik, 2018). Another reason is that the perpetrators want to humiliate their enemies further by raping “their” women, “implanting sperm, taking over their means of reproduction, wiping out the enemy race or ethnicity” (Wolfe, 2012). A document entitled “Sexual violence: a tool of war,” published by the United Nation (UN) in 2014, stated that “rape committed during war is often intended to terrorise the population, break up families, destroy communities and, in some instances, change the ethnic makeup of the next generation. Sometimes it is also used to deliberately infect women with HIV or render women from the targeted community incapable of bearing children” (UN, 2014). Prof Inger Skjelsbæk, a professor at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, agrees with this reason and adds that sexual abuse is intentionally used as a weapon to exterminate whole populations, terrorise people and force them from their houses (Grønhaug, 2018).

Sometimes the rape of enemies is regarded as a type of reward and as a by-product of war. This was the case with the rape of German women at the end of World War II (Grønhaug, 2018). Rape is also used to punish women, especially women who are politically active themselves or associated with people who are politically active. Sexual violence can “also form part of a genocidal strategy and ethnic cleansing, which inflicts life-threatening bodily and mental harm” (Zaheer and Yagnik, 2018). Peltola (2018) adds that rape can also be considered as “a spoil of war where men rape and commit acts of sexual violence for their own pleasure”.

Ethnic cleansing and genocide
The term “ethnic cleansing” is often mentioned in literature when rape as weapon of war is mentioned, but there is no legal definition for this concept, as it is not recognised as an independent crime under international law. However, it can be argued that ethnic cleansing refers to the expulsion of a group from a certain area (Quran, 2017).


[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: July 2021. The rest of the article deals with sexual violence as a weapon in war is an increasing problem; the experiences and stories of the rape survivors; the children who are conceived as a result of rape; the husbands of the rape survivors; how these rape incidents are ripping communities apart; and men as victims of rape. 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 - August 2021

Television series have played a significant role in creating public interest about forensic science and the investigation of crime.
By Annalise Kempen
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.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Fire and water - two elements of nature that result in opposite reactions: when one stares at a firepit or a bonfire and listens to the sound of water such as a waterfall or waves breaking, it typically makes one calm and relaxed.
By Annalise Kempen
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.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - August 2021

In two recent, different and unrelated case law, namely -
Read More - Minister of Transport v Brackenfell Trailer Hire (Pty) Ltd and Other 2021 (1) SACR 463 (SCA)
Role-players in this matter are: National Minister of Transport = the appellant;
Read More - S v Gabani 2021 (1) SACR 562 (ECB)
This Gabani case took place between the Mdantsane Magistrates’ Court and the High Court in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape.

Letters - August 2021

Dudley Maharaj was born in Pietermaritzburg in 1936 and recently turned 85 years of age.
NAME: W/O L H Zandberg STATION: Pretoria Central Magistrates’ Court
August 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.