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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).

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).


[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 - October 2020

In the early morning hours of 2 June 2019, Bernard Groenewald, a truck driver, pulled over along the N1 near Touws River in the Western Cape, when a petrol bomb was thrown into his truck. As he tried to jump out of his truck to escape, he broke his ankle and was unable to flee the scene.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
On 6 September 2020, the SAPS commemorated the lives of 40 police officials who had paid the highest price during the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.
By Annalise Kempen
The untimely death of Suna Venter, an SABC journalist, in June 2017, is confirmation that threat assessment and management in the workplace is essential.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
We are all familiar with the term “bullying” and all too often images of learners who are bullied by teasing, isolation and physical assaults, come to mind.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - October 2020

Read More - Pretorius and Others v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Others 2018 (2) SACR 501 (GP)
Three applicants, who are all members of the same family, were involved in this application before the High Court in Pretoria.
Read More - S V M 2018 (2) SACR 573 (SCA)
Relevant legislation Section 194 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the CPA”) provides as follows:
Read More - Rautenbach v Minister of Safety and Security (nowadays called the Minister of Police) 2017 (2) SACR 610 (WCC)
Introduction Mr Rautenbach instituted civil action for damages in the sum of R346 750 against the Minister of Police before the High Court in Cape Town arising from Mr Rautenbach’s alleged unlawful arrest and detention at the local police station in Mossel Bay*.
Read More - S V Kruse 2018 (2) SACR 644 (WCC)
Mr Kruse, the accused, is deaf and mute (Afrikaans: “doofstom”).

Letters - October 2020

Congratulations to the subscribers who won the following books in this year’s book competitions:
It is with deep regret and much sadness that I learnt of the passing of W/O Herman de Bruin on 7 September 2020.
October 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.