• 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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By Kotie Geldenhuys

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. That is why some of them will wear gloves or hoodies, they will try to wash off blood and cover their tracks. But, eventually, chances are that they will be caught as there is no such thing as a perfect crime. Sometimes the smallest and seemingly insignificant thing can result in a conviction and prosecution. Knots and ligatures are examples of those common oversights, turned evidence.

The analysis of knots and ligatures can be relevant in civil cases, such as where safety equipment has failed resulting in an accident that led to injury or death. The activity under investigation could either be recreational such as in the case of rock climbing or professional, such as at high construction sites (Chisnall, Nd). Yet, knots and ligatures can be found at crime scenes and death involving strangulation, autoerotic fatalities, murder, rape, robbery or at suicide sites. Knots and ligatures fulfil a variety of roles in criminal acts and may be used to bind, restrain, strangle or hang victims. Investigation and analysis of these knots and ligatures could lead to useful evidence.

Ligatures on a crime scene
Ligatures can be made from rope, electric cables, nylon, clothing, bed sheets, chains, dog leads, washing lines, luggage straps, and various other objects. These can be important physical evidence where the perpetrator may have prepared for an attack and was armed with a ligature, such as a rope, but he or she may also use what is at hand, such as an electric cord. However, a perpetrator may carry traces of the ligature material from the crime scene which can link him or her to the crime scene. This can be used, for example if the perpetrator's clothing is examined (Encyclopedia.com, 2020).

Knots
A ligature is generally used by making a knot within the material. The different types of knots which can be identified by the forensic expert may reveal certain characteristics of the person who tied it, such as their knot-tying skills, trade and hobbies. Both the ligature from which the knot is made, as well as the knot could be important physical evidence (Encyclopedia.com, 2020).

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[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: September 2020. Who would have thought that there is science behind knots and ligatures? If you are interested in reading the rest of the article and learning about the role this plays in bringing criminals to book, send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact Servamus’s office at tel: (012) 345 4660/41. 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.