• What is the extent of the illegal organized cigarette trade in South Africa? How much money is lost annually to the South African economy as a result? We answer these and other important questions in an article published in Servamus: January 2021.

  • Servamus subscribers stand the chance of winning a BYRNA Less-lethal firearm (no need for permits). Turn to p21 of Servamus: January 2021 to find out what you need to do to win this awesome prize worth R7500!

  • COVID-19 has exacerbated the threat of crimes that are committed in the pharmaceutical industry, such as counterfeiting and fraud, as large consignments of counterfeit medical products have been distributed. Our article published from p24 in Servamus: January 2021, reveals more details.

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By Annalise Kempen

The current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in various lockdown levels across the world, has opened new opportunities for criminals to exploit people - especially in cyberspace. Many people have in the process become more dependent on technology, the Internet and online platforms to work, study, meet, shop and interact with loved ones and family.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) notes in a research brief entitled "COVID-19-related trafficking of medical products as a threat to public health" which was published in July 2020, that the increase in cyberattacks and online scams, correlates with the spread of COVID-19. It is no surprise that there has been an increase in such attacks and scams targeting especially hospitals and critical public infrastructure engaged in combating COVID-19, since the first quarter of 2020. Unfortunately, the UNODC does not expect that these cyberattacks and scams will end soon (UNODC, 2020).

The most common COVID-related cybercrimes
Two of the most common COVID-related cybercrimes that the UNODC (2020) have identified are COVID-19-related fraud where products (mostly medical) have been paid for, but were never delivered; and data that has been stolen and sold on the Dark Web. In terms of the types of online threats that have been experienced, the UNODC notes the following:

  • Fraudulent websites, where corporate websites have been manipulated to make the purchaser/client believe that the company is genuine and legitimate;
  • phishing and scamming which are perpetrated via e-mail where the perpetrator intends to steal the user's personal information; and
  • ransomware attacks, where the perpetrator either threatens to publish the victim's data or perpetually blocks the victim's access to his or her data, unless the victim pays a ransom. The crime is typically perpetrated through malware which is often activated after the victim has opened an e-mail attachment, or clicked on a link in an e-mail message.

INTERPOL (2020a) agrees that the types of cyberattacks relate to three areas, namely:

  • Malicious domains where the words "coronavirus", "corona-virus", "covid19" and "covid-19" have become common. Although many of these websites are legitimate, cybercriminals have been creating thousands of new websites during the past couple of months which send out spam campaigns and spread malware.
  • Malware, spyware and Trojans have been embedded in many interactive corona-virus maps and websites. Cybercriminals have been taking advantage of the widespread global communication on COVID-19 to mask their activities. These spam e-mails are set up in such a way as to trick users into clicking on links which download malware to their computers or mobile devices.
  • Ransomware have been perpetrated against many hospitals, medical centres and public institutions that have been so overwhelmed with the health crisis that they could not afford to be locked out of their systems, which criminals believe would make them more likely to pay the ransom. The ransomware can enter their systems through e-mails containing infected links or attachments, compromised employee credentials, or by exploiting a vulnerability in the system (INTERPOL, 2020a).

The use of the Dark Web in times of pandemics
Each week, the Evidence-based Cybersecurity Research Group based at the Georgia State University, USA collects data from 60 Dark Web markets and forums through its darknet analysis project. This research group has found that three major types of COVID-19 offerings have emerged since late February 2020 relating to protective gear, medication and services to help people commit fraud.

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[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: January 2021. If you are interested in reading the rest of the article please contact Servamus’s offices. Tel: (012) 345 4622 or send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Ed.]

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Servamus - January 2021

A lack of employment and job opportunities is often considered to be an important reason for criminal behaviour.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Towards the end of March 2020, the President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that as of midnight on 26 March 2020, South Africa would go into a "hard lockdown".
By Kotie Geldenhuys
The current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in various lockdown levels across the world, has opened new opportunities for criminals to exploit people - especially in cyberspace.
By Annalise Kempen
Families across the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which will likely have a long-lasting impact on public health and our well-being.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - January 2021

Read More - S v Leshilo (345/2019) [2020] ZASCA 98 (8 September 2020) (SCA)
Mr Moshidi Danny Leshilo (hereinafter referred to as “the accused”), was accused 1 before the regional court, Pretoria (“the trial court”) where he was convicted on 11 June 2014 of housebreaking with the intent to commit an unknown offence in terms of section 262 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (count 1); the unlawful possession of a firearm (count 2); and the unlawful possession of ammunition (count 3).
Read More - S v JA 2017 (2) SACR 143 (NCK)
Mr JA, the accused who is from Port Nolloth on the northern part of the South African west coast, was convicted of rape before the regional court, Springbok in Namaqualand.
Read More - S v Ndlovu 2017 (2) SACR 305 (CC)
Relevant legislation (1) Section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 provides for the offence of rape simpliciter (Afrikaans: “sonder voorbehoud”).

Letters - January 2021

Hearty congratulations to Sgt T S Moletsane of the Beaufort West Stock Theft Unit who was awarded as the Best Member of a Stock Theft Unit - for the fourth consecutive year!
January 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.