• Prevention is key to protecting our homes from fire. In this month’s Community Safety Tips published from p52 in Servamus: September 2021, we share information about the common causes of fire and what you have to do in case of fire.

  • It can be a headache for authorities to identify the bodies of deceased persons. article published from p22 in Servamus: September 2021 provides valuable information on how forensic science and databases can be used in the identification process.

  • With their keen sense of smell, biological body-fluid detection dogs play a vital role at rape and murder crime scenes. Our article published from p18 in Servamus: September 2021 explains their training, work and successes along with their human partners.

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By Kotie Geldenhuys

One of the most familiar cold cases, which still boggles South Africans’ minds after all these years, is the Gert van Rooyen and Joey Haarhoff case, when at least six young girls mysteriously disappeared in the late 1980s. Although Gert and Joey committed suicide, since then the girls’ whereabouts are still unknown. This is one of many cold cases the police have been unable to solve. Other cases that remain unsolved is that of Inge Lotz, who was allegedly murdered in her Stellenbosch apartment. And Tracey Thompson’s body that was dumped on a piece of agricultural land just outside Benoni remains a mystery as well. The murderer who had sexually assaulted and chopped off Anika Smit’s hands in her father’s house in Pretoria North in 2010 is yet to be brought to book. Who raped and murdered Aviwe Wellem in her bedroom in Gxarha village in Dutywa in the Eastern Cape? What happened to Amahle Thabethe, an eight-year-old girl who went missing outside her home in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni in 2019 or Natascha Viljoen who disappeared in May 2010, five days after giving birth to her daughter? Where is six-year-old Asheeqah Noordien who went missing in 2005 while playing at a park in Scheldt Walk, Manenberg?

None of these families have received any answers about what had happened to their loved ones, but they hope and pray that one day these cases, along with hundreds of other cold cases will be solved and that justice will be served.

The term “cold case” creates the perception that it only refers to an old, unsolved murder. But the term “cold case” not only pertains to murder as it includes missing persons, unidentified deceased persons, undetermined deaths and criminal sexual assault cases. Every unresolved case represents a person, the victim’s family, friends and community.

There is no universal definition of a cold case. Oxford Languages defines a cold case as “an unsolved criminal investigation which remains open pending the discovery of new evidence”. The National Police Foundation (2020) in Washington defines cold cases as “unsolved murders, long-term missing persons/unidentified persons, undetermined deaths and open sexual assault cases”. A criminal case that goes to trial and does not result in a conviction can also be evaluated as a cold case and be “kept on the books pending the delivery of new evidence” (Laws.com, 2019). It seems clear from these definitions that a cold case is an unsolved criminal or suspected criminal case (in the case of missing persons).

A large number of serious crimes, such as murders, remain unsolved (or are going cold) in many countries, including developed countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK. “In the USA, one in three murders is never solved. Only if there is hard evidence linking an individual to a murder can the police solve the case. If a body is found and there are no witnesses or any indications of who committed the murder, it can be very difficult for the police to identify a suspect,” says Gareth Newham from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) (Mkhuma, 2015). Sadly, the situation in South Africa is not much different as the majority of serious crimes remain unsolved. The latest SAPS Annual Report for the 2019/2020 financial year indicate that only 36.17% of suspects (751 720 from a total of 2 078 225) are detected in serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder and rape (SAPS, 2020a).

When are case dockets “closed”?
A case can become cold when there is a lack of evidence, strained resources, ineffective investigation (such as contaminated crime scenes and evidence) and initial efforts to solve a case prove ineffective (Davis, Jensen and Kitchens, 2012). These cases are typically closed, but can be reopened at any time when new evidence surfaces.

According to the South African Police Service Standing Order (General) 325, a case can be closed as “withdrawn” where the police “considers a prosecution undesirable” and the docket has been sent to the public prosecutor who declines to prosecute. A case can also be withdrawn where the complainant requests the charges to be withdrawn. This only applies to cases “of no consequence” and “... shall not be permitted in a serious case, or in any other case if the circumstances are such that, in the interests of public justice, the charge should be proceeded with”. The complainant must request the withdrawal in writing and provide reasons for this request. The Standing Order makes it clear that “on no account should the police suggest to a complainant that he or she should withdraw a charge” (Smythe, 2015).


[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: September 2021. If you are interested in reading the rest of the article, send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out what you need to do. This article discusses the establishment of cold case teams in the police; the investigation of these cases and how science can be utilised to help solve these cold cases.]

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Servamus - September 2021

The relatives of a Pietermaritzburg couple, who were shot dead in their bakkie on Old Greytown Road in March 2021, were angry when a young, close relative discovered a video making rounds on social media platforms showing the grisly scene.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
These days the media is able to cover almost every aspect of the criminal justice system, from the bloody crime scene and the arrest of the perpetrator, to the trial and eventually the sentencing of the perpetrator.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Blood dripping from stairs like waterfalls and maimed bodies; decomposed bodies covered with maggots; small children crying out in pain after being raped by someone they trus-ted; and women with bruised faces and bodies who shamefully try to hide their pain and humiliation are just a few scenarios that police members come across when they are called to a crime scene.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
One of the most familiar cold cases, which still boggles South Africans’ minds after all these years, is the Gert van Rooyen and Joey Haarhoff case, when at least six young girls mysteriously disappeared in the late 1980s.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - September 2021

Act 7 of 2021 supra appears in English and Afrikaans in Government Gazette No 44650 dated 1 June 2021. It amends the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998.
This Act 2 of 2020 is discussed comprehensively in Ask Pollex in Servamus: October 2020.
Read More - S v Josephs 2021(1) SACR 450 (WCC)
Relevant legislation Section 302 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the CPA”) provides as follows:
Read More - S v Tiry and Eight Others 2021(1) SACR 349 (SCA)
Factual background The principal complainants in this matter are Sasol and Engen who are producers of petroleum products.

Letters - September 2021

When police members turn 60, they are legally obliged to go on pension. Yet, that does not mean that they are "old".
Pollex noticed the following two letters in the regional newspaper Tyger Burger, dated 2 June 2021, which circulates in the Northern Suburbs in the Cape Peninsula.
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.