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.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
In February 2020, a family from Pretoria East had a harmful experience with a smartwatch which was meant to keep their children safe. They got rid of the watch after an unknown voice asked their seven-year-old daughter what her name was. Her mother contacted the manufacturer to ask whether they had received similar complaints and they informed her that it had happened once before. She was shocked to hear that there were basically no regulations in place to regulate the apps on these smartwatches (Meyer Jansen, 2020). This incident made us wonder whether more harm is being done when parents fit such a smartwatch to their child's wrist in an attempt to keep them safe, and whether they are potentially placing their children at more risk when doing so.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
When Anita* (a widow) found love via an online platform, she was thrilled. She met Ramstein van Holt on the dating site Tinder, adored his looks and the messages she constantly received from him. She had no idea that the photos which he had sent her or used in his profile were actually those of a Greek politician. Anita also had no idea that she was about to become another victim of an online romance scam. She fitted the perfect profile - she was lonely, caring, kind and trustworthy. She was overjoyed when Ramstein promised to marry her once he returned from Scotland where he was doing contract work. Their online relationship gained momentum and the gestures he made were extremely romantic and intimate. Despite not having met him in person, Anita's Internet lover started requesting money four months after they had met. She believed him when he told her that he would pay her back when he received the money that was owed to him due to the work he was doing. First, he wanted money for airtime, then he needed money to pay his attorneys to sort out his tax affairs. The requests kept coming. When she sometimes hesitated to transfer some funds, he manipulated her by telling her that she did not want to help him and that she did not love him, but that he wanted to marry her and give her a house to stay in. Within a period of nine months Anita transferred everything she owned to him - a total of R500 000! Her world was shattered when she became aware that she was actually speaking to a homeless person who had been set up by a syndicate in South Africa to be part of the deception. But it was the rejection from her family that affected her the most since they refused to have anything to do with her (Carte Blanche, 2020).
Compiled by Kotie Geldenhuys
One unforeseen consequence of the emergence of the Internet, is the rapid increase in the illicit trade in child sexual abuse images and videos worldwide. Why does this make us upset? Because every child sexual abuse image or video is a crime scene where a child was abused. Although many of the perpetrators of child pornography think that they will get away with their crimes, the net is slowly closing in on them as law enforcement authorities globally are taking hands and use technology to ensure that these perpetrators will be stopped in their tracks and spend many years behind bars.
By Adv Jacqueline Fick
The world around us is evolving at a rapid pace. Technology has not only given rise to a new way of doing business, but also to how crime is committed - be it traditional or new types of crime.
When conducting an investigation in modern times, there is no better place to start at than with cellphone analysis. A cellphone is equivalent to a computer and in some cases, it contains more information than what we store on our computers. Yet, investigators might wonder how a cellphone can provide them with vital evidence in a murder or a robbery case and the like. This article aims to provide practical advice on how to deal with cellphone evidence as part of an investigation.