• In what ways did the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic impact on the illegal drug trade? We explore how traders changed their modi operandi in an article published from p14 in Servamus: June 2022.

  • Dogs are known for their excellent sense of smell. Read our article published from p30 in Servamus: June 2022 about how a South African company has trained dogs to also detect COVID-19.

  • The floods of April 2022 caused havoc and death in KwaZulu-Natal. Fortunately, hundreds of search and rescue specialists used their skills to help search for those who were in need. Refer to an article published from p36 in Servamus: June 2022.

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By Annalise Kempen

WhatsApp and Telegram have become popular tools to send messages quickly and at almost no cost. Criminals have realised that these message platforms provide them with a cheap tool to market their illicit goods to a wider audience, as long as they have their cellphone numbers. This is exactly what recently happened in Dubai where drug peddlers had sent WhatsApp messages from unknown numbers to residents across the country, offering them different types of drugs at different prices. “Once recipients show interest, GPS locations of drugs are shared with buyers after a payment has been made. Buyers then collect the drugs, which are usually buried underground, from the specified locations,” said Colonel Abdullah Matar Al Khayat, the manager of Hemaya International Centre at Dubai Police (Zakaria, 2022).

The creativity of the drug peddlers in marketing and distributing their drugs met their match when the Dubai police created a campaign to encourage the public to report any anonymous message they received via WhatsApp, promoting, selling or delivering drugs to them via GPS. During the campaign that ran between 15 July and 1 November 2021, 632 people reported the drug promoting message via the Dubai Police’s e-crime portal. This was a huge increase in the fight against drug trafficking compared to only 229 reports that were received in the preceding 13 months. The police requested the public to share screenshots of the messages they received with them on an electronic platform, whereafter the police blocked those numbers (Al Amir, 2022). The campaign resulted in the Dubai police arresting 100 drug dealers earlier this year after these drug dealers had been linked to sending these WhatsApp messages from unknown numbers (Zakaria, 2022).

Online markets gain popularity
There is a general perception that the online trade in legal and illicit drugs has only gained momentum during the last decade or so as the Internet has gained popularity for finding information, doing business and shopping. It may therefore come as a surprise to read that it is believed that the first online drug transaction involving a cannabis (dagga) exchange between students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University happened during the early 1970s. This confirms that the sale of drugs via the Internet is nothing new, with web-based discussion forums relating to drug use and manufacturing being present online since the second half of the 1990s. As communication has become more powerful and encryption technology more common, illicit drugs, including prescription medicine, have also became much more accessible online (EMCDDA and Europol, 2017).

Since e-commerce has become part of our daily lives, criminals, including drug traffickers and peddlers, have been offering their goods for sale on various online platforms on both the surface web (normal Internet) and the darknet. However, the darknet is no longer necessarily the best alternative source for drug users who prefer not to buy from dealers on the streets. In 2006, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) warned that countries may find that domestic abusers may be turning to the normal surface web (the Internet) to obtain prescription drugs as legislation or even stricter legislation is being implemented to curb pharmaceutical abuse at conventional pharmacies. They further warned that countries may find that their territories are used as some of the nodes in the complex web of Internet-based trafficking (Matz and Sudaram, 2006).


[This is an extract of an article published in Servamus: June 2022. If you are interested in reading the rest of the article that deals with the darknet, social media, the types of drugs offered online, what is done to curb the online drug trade and dealing with online drug markets, send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out what you need to do to access the article. Ed.]

Servamus - June 2022

According to the World Drug Report for 2021, as released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), drug use resulted in the deaths of almost half a million people in 2019 (UNODC, 2021).
By Kotie Geldenhuys
In December 2011, 38-year-old Janice Bronwyn Linden from Durban was executed in China.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
WhatsApp and Telegram have become popular tools to send messages quickly and at almost no cost.
By Annalise Kempen
We all know someone who has been struggling with an addiction - ranging from prescription medication to illegal drugs, alcohol to gambling or even shopping.
Compiled by Annalise Kempen

Pollex - June 2022

Section 304(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the CPA”) provides as follows:
Read More - S v Essop (Case no 432/2020) [2021] ZASCA 66 (1 June 2021) (SCA)
Mr Aadiel Essop, the accused, pleaded guilty before the regional court (“the trial court”) on 45 counts of contravening section 24B(1)(a) of the Films and Publications Act 65 of 1996 (hereinafter referred to as the “Publications Act”), as well as one count of common law kidnapping (Afrikaans: “gemenereg menseroof”).
Read More - Minister of Justice (First Appellant) and Minister of Police (Second Appellant) v Masia 2021 (2) SACR 425 (GP)
Picture the following: On 6 August 2013, Mr Thabo Toka Mack Masia (hereinafter referred to as “Masia”) presented himself by appointment at the Atteridgeville Magistrates’ Court in Pretoria before a maintenance (“papgeld”) officer for an enquiry in terms of the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998 pertaining to the maintenance of his minor child.
Read More - S v Albro Mclean. Case no: (A112/21) [2021] ZAWCHC158 High Court Cape Town dated 12 August 2021 and 2021(2) SACR 437 (WCC)
Mr Albro Mclean, the accused, was convicted of rape in the Wynberg regional court in the Cape Peninsula whereupon he was sentenced to life incarceration.

Letters - June 2022

On Monday 9 May 2022, the National Commissioner of the SAPS, Gen Fannie Masemola along with members of his management team conducted a site visit at the joint operational centre (JOC) for search and rescue teams at the Virginia Airport in Durban.
Saturday 14 May 2022 was to be yet another day of search, rescue and recovery operations in the disaster areas of KwaZulu-Natal following the flood devastation a few weeks earlier.
June 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.