• 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 Kotie Geldenhuys

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). Many of these deaths are the result of synthetic drug use. Synthetic drugs contribute to one of the most significant drug problems worldwide (UNODC, 2018). The synthetic drug market has expanded which means that drug users are exposed to an increasingly diversified market of synthetic drugs (UNODC, 2021).

Synthetic drugs, also known as “designer drugs” or “club drugs” are chemical drugs which are manufactured in laboratories (Ohwovoriole, 2021). When the “rave” and “club” scene became popular during the 1980s and 1990s, the term “designer drugs” also became popular in a world where everything became “designer” - from “designer clothes” to “designer home décor”. Designer drugs however, have not been named after designers but are rather “designed” to have similar effects to those drugs which are considered too dangerous to be legal, such as opium and cocaine. Designer drugs were designed as to avoid legal safeguards “but regardless of promises of ‘legal’ highs, law enforcement agencies increasingly are cracking down on drugs marketed as recognised drugs” (Hartney, 2019). The production of synthetic drugs is getting increasingly sophisticated with distribution networks getting nimbler and smarter while the drugs themselves, become more harmful (Europol, nd).

Synthetic drugs mimic or strengthen the effects of naturally occurring drugs (Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, 2020). It simulates the feeling which is experienced when illegal drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana, are used. Synthetic drugs have the same damaging effect to the drugs they mimic, but sometimes these effects can even be worse. Although some of these synthetic drugs are produced for medicinal reasons, many have no medicinal use at all but only remain available due to their psychedelic and psychoactive effects (Ohwovoriole, 2021).

Dr Elizabeth Hartney, a psychologist at the Swingle Clinic in Canada, who treats addictions among others, explained that “certain prescription medications that have predictable and, in some cases, desirable effects are often included in the designer drugs category, although they are not designer drugs by the original definition. Popular designer drug medications include tranquilizers and erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra, which is often used in conjunction with meth in the party and play sessions. Chemically similar synthetic versions of these drugs, which fit the original meaning of designer drugs, may also be used,” she said. She added that there has been an increase in designer drugs sold over the Internet, particularly synthetic versions of Viagra, marijuana and anabolic steroids in recent years (Hartney, 2019).

There is a variety of synthetic drugs available on the market and it is impossible to know every chemical that might be present in these drugs. Although synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones and synthetic opioids all contain some known ingredients, the USA Drug and Enforcement Administration (DEA) has identified nearly 300 different types of synthetic drug compounds, each with a unique chemical formula (Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, 2020).


[This is an extract of an article published in Servamus: June 2022. If you are interested in reading the rest of the article that explains the different types of synthetic drugs and their dangers as well as the ease with which one can get these drugs, 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.