• Too many street children resort to sniffing glue to help them to forget about the pain, cold and even abuse they have to suffer. We explore their world in an article featured in Servamus: May 2021.

  • The reality about the persistent demand for babies due to people who cannot have their own, has resulted in a market for “human fertility”. We explore this shocking reality in the May 2021 issue of Servamus.

  • Perfect parents do not exist, but parents can be guided in doing their best to help their children to grow up to become responsible and law-abiding citizens. In the May 2021 issue of Servamus we provide our readers with a parenting guide.

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By Kotie Geldenhuys
Photos courtesy of Tariro Washinyira; Zoë Postman from GroudUp and a PRASA employee

A lack of employment and job opportunities is often considered to be an important reason for criminal behaviour. Although there was a general decrease in many crime types during the COVID-19 lockdown, infrastructure across the country suffered dearly. Infrastructure vandalism for profit impacts many sectors, including telecommunications, electricity, education and the transport sector. Although it is not a new crime trend, it became more prevalent than before.

It has always been shocking and mind-boggling how people vandalise state and private property when they are unhappy about something or in times of crises. For the past couple of decades, we have seen how communities have torched trains when trains run late due to cable theft, how they burn clinics due to a lack of service delivery by municipalities or how they vandalised schools and stole equipment which they could sell to buy alcohol, drugs and sometimes food. By engaging in this criminal behaviour, they destroy their own future and those of generations to come.

After the national COVID-19 lockdown had been instated at midnight on 26 March 2020, opportunistic criminals started to target train stations and railway infrastructure, which were left non-operational during the lockdown. Schools and other infrastructure around the country did not escape these selfish criminal acts either. Criminals used this period of the lockdown as a cover to break the law at a time when our law enforcement agencies were occupied with supporting the national effort to contain the pandemic. While the majority of South Africans continued to respect the lockdown rules and the rights of others, criminals exploited this crisis to their own sinister ends. Although various forms of infrastructure, including cellphone towers, Eskom property and municipal property were hard hit by criminals during the COVID-19 lockdown, we will mainly focus on the railway environment and the educational system in this article.

The mining of the country's rail infrastructure has been a problem for years. In a parliamentary response to a question posed by the DA in July 2020, it was revealed that over the past three years a total of 1833 incidents of vandalism had occurred at train stations in Gauteng with a replacement cost in excess of R2 billion (Simelane, 2020). During 2019, PRASA lost R364 million as a result of the looting of its infrastructure and burning of trains along 22 000 km of tracks targeted by criminals (Koko, 2020).

As the lockdown started and the railway environment became non-operational and had no security personnel around, criminals escalated their efforts. Along many lines, they stripped almost everything within this environment and walked away with every piece of steel or copper they could carry. Criminals ripped up platforms with pick-axes to gain access to the electric cable that runs beneath it, stripped ticket offices, stole roofing sheets and walked away with drain covers (Carte Blanche, 2020). Distribution boxes at many stations were torn and disembowelled of their copper cables. In some cases, the boxes were torched (Simelane, 2020). The "mining" of the railway system happened in broad daylight and these criminals were not afraid to carry away expensive parts of equipment in full view of the public (Carte Blanche, 2020).

By September 2020, overhead cables had gone missing on several train routes in Gauteng. It was cut "very close to the bone" as perpetrators ensured that they got away with every possible millimetre of cable. Underground cables were not spared. Kilometres of copper cable next to the railway lines were dug up and stolen. All what was left, were the casings which covered the copper. During the lockdown, approximately 60 km of cable was stolen on the once busy 35 km railway line between Johannesburg's Park station and Randfontein (Borroughs, 2020). A concerned citizen who witnessed how valuable infrastructure was tampered with during the lockdown, particularly on the eastern corridor in Gauteng, said: "… if you look at these overhead lines, they're missing, they disappeared. In January, all these lines were still here ... One of the guys was busy cutting the cables, stealing the copper, when somebody told him to 'not do this', he replied: ‘Mind your own business, this is my business’” (Ntshidi, 2020). Looters cashing in on the railway lines said they regarded this as an easy way to make money as cables were lucrative assets for alleged unscrupulous warehouses and scrap yards, which pay top dollar for the metal (Koko, 2020)

One of the train stations that was vandalised is Kliptown - a station where crime was rife, irrespective of whether security officers were present. The general community and thieves have unlimited access to the Kliptown station because the palisade fencing has been stolen. For years, the entire Kliptown informal settlement community was connected to the rail power supply. The Daily Maverick reported that during the lockdown period, cables were dug up, while lights, distribution boxes, taps, guard rails, steel benches, doors and window frames went missing. The entire roofing structure was removed in some buildings. It looked like a volcano had erupted recently.


[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: January 2021. If you are interested in reading the rest of the article that explains that vandalism is expensive, that security was nowhere to be seen, how to possibly deal with this problem as well as vandalism in the educational environment, 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 - May 2021

This tweet left me with much to think about: “So my 8 year old met the guy in my life for the first time and he asked him for permission to call him dad.
By Annalise Kempen
South Africa is not only one of the countries with the highest crime rates in the world, but also with the highest rate of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) globally.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
In April 2021, a video showing a Grade 10 learner being bullied in full view of her peers at a secondary school in Limpopo, went viral on social media.
By Sas Otto
Infertility or the desire to have a child has resulted in many babies ending up as commodities for sale on the black market.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - May 2021

Read More - Doorewaard and Another v the State (Case No 908/2019) [2020] ZASCA 155 (27 November 2020) and 2021(1) SACR 235 (SCA
ntroduction Mr Pieter Doorewaard (accused 1) and Mr Philip Schutte (accused 2) were convicted before the High Court in Mahikeng in the North West Province (“the trial court”) on five counts, namely murder; kidnapping; intimidation; theft and illegal pointing of a firearm.
Read More - S v Lekeka 2021 (1) SACR 106 (FB)
Mr Molefe Edward Lekeka, the accused, was convicted by the regional court in Bethlehem in the Free State (“the trial court”), of count 1, housebreaking with intent to contravene section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (hereinafter referred to as Act 32 of 2007), and count 2, contravening section 55(a) of Act 32 of 2007.
Read More - amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC* and Another v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Others; Minister of Police v amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC* and Others CCT 278/19 AND CCT 279/19 dated 4 February 2021 Constitutional Court (CC)
The applicants, namely amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC* and Mr Stephen Sole - a journalist who had been the subject of state surveillance* - approached the High Court in Pretoria (“the High Court”) on the basis of a number of constitutional challenges to the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act 70 of 2002 (hereinafter referred to as “RICA”)*.

Letters - May 2021

I endorse the sentiments of Jay Jugwanth about the absence of the Police Minister and MEC at the home of Sgt Paul.
On 11 March 2021, a closely-knit family was robbed of its nucleus, D/Sgt Jeremy Paul, who was ambushed and murdered while tracing a suspected in Swapo, an informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg.
Losing Louis has been very difficult for both myself, my sons, Jordan aged 14 and Jared aged 12. Louis contracted Covid-19 at the beginning of December 2020, and became too weak to fight anymore.
May 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.