• Do you know about the different types of spyware, its dangers and how you can protect yourself? The article published from p15 in Servamus: October 2021, will provide readers with valuable information about this dangerous software.

  • Along with family and colleagues, Servamus pays tribute to police members who have lost their lives in the line of duty – and to COVID-19. Our article published from p44 in Servamus: October 2021 reminds readers about the dangers our members face each day.

  • The Cybercrimes Act 19 of 2020 has been promulgated and will soon come into operation. Our legal discussion will help readers to understand this new legislation and is published from p22 in Servamus: October 2021.

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By Kotie Geldenhuys

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. The video showed the couple’s bloody bodies, while the vehicle’s engine was still running (Kunene, 2021). A similar situation happened in Ohio when the family of a murder victim showed up at the crime scene after reading about it on a social media platform (Witmire, 2017). Situations like these make it clear that some people do not think about the consequences of when they post crime-related information on social media. Clearly, they do not realise the impact their actions can have on the families of victims or how it can possibly hamper the investigation.

With the ever-changing technological landscape, social media is influencing people’s perceptions of crime, actual criminality and the criminal justice system (Hayes, 2015). In a relatively short period of time, our world has been taken over by social media. With an estimated more than 22 million people in South Africa using social media platforms (Allen, 2021), everybody with a smartphone in hand and access to a social media platform, has the potential of becoming an instant “reporter”.

Be careful with sharing photos of possible perpetrators
Once we are active on social media, we often become part of community groups such as the local neighbourhood watch group or community forum. The majority of these groups are created to bring residents together and help to spread news and information about relevant matters or incidents in the neighbourhood. By sharing valuable and verified information to keep communities safe or vigilant is one thing, but to share photos of suspects or their vehicles’ licence plates on such a group should not be allowed. Revealing a licence plate or encroaching on the privacy of individuals while taking photos is against the law. Often snapshots of CCTV footage of suspected vehicle thieves or housebreakers are distributed via social media. Getting involved in such actions may have severe consequences as such a person may face a possible civil lawsuit or as much as one year’s incarceration as well as a hefty fine. Section 69(2) of the South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995 states that "no person may, without the written permission of the national or provincial commissioner, publish a photograph or sketch of a person who is suspected of having committed an offence ...” Section 69(3) stipulates that any person who publishes such a photograph or sketch "shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months”.

Adv Melville Cloete, a senior legal adviser from the Western Cape SAPS stressed: “You are not allowed to publish a picture identifying an alleged suspect in a crime on WhatsApp or on Facebook before this person has appeared before a court of law. The South African Police Service Act strictly forbids this. Members of neighbourhood watches often take pictures of suspects at crime scenes, which you can do, but the moment you send the picture to someone else or post it to a social media platform, it is considered published.” The same applies for sharing pictures of witnesses in criminal cases as it might lead to vigilantism and endanger people’s livelihoods. There is only one exception to the rule and that is when a police official in charge of an investigation gives permission for a certain photo to be published (Cape Town Etc, 2020).

Adv Cloete added: “It can also lead to vigilante action in cases where the person arrested is innocent, but as a result of the published photo, which depicts him (or her) as a criminal, the community takes the law into its own hands. Everyone has the right to a good name and reputation and the person who taints this with defamatory statements, by posting such a photo, can be held liable for damages in civil court.” Numerous complainants have won such cases in recent years. These actions also lead to unlawful arrests and detention resulting in an investigation into the police officials who relied on the information from the community.


[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. Other issues that are discussed in this article deal with how social media reporting makes it hard for the police to protect the identities of suspects; how photos of deceased persons are shared; the spreading of fake news and use of social media to instigate violence; and how criminals use social media.]

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Servamus - October 2021

The Internet has opened up massive communication and business opportunities to billions of people across the globe.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Cyberspace continues to revolutionise the way we all live, work and play and with it comes great opportunity for economic prosperity, job creation and technological innovation to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges such as tackling COVID-19, which has been a shared challenge across the world.
By Victoria White, First Secretary (Cyber), British High Commission Pretoria and Peter Goodman, Strategic Advisor to the UK Digital Access Programme
As if the protests and looting in KwaZulu-Natal in July 2021 were not enough to paralyse port operations in Durban for more than a week, Transnet, which is responsible for handling the commercial sea route, was also targeted on 22 July 2021 with a strain of ransomware.
Compiled by Kotie Geldenhuys
Whenever the term “forensics” is used, one is reminded about the Locard exchange principle of “every contact leaves a trace” which states that no perpetrator can leave a crime scene without leaving some trace.
By Annalise Kempen

Pollex - October 2021

Background On 31 March 2017, Mr Nolan van Schalkwyk, the accused, and another man (hereinafter referred to as “the second assailant”) attempted to rob the complainant, who was walking towards the Rentech Station in the Belhar area in the Cape Peninsula at around 06:15, while on his way to work. It was still completely dark.
Relevant law Section 86 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (hereinafter referred to as “the ECT Act”) provides as follows:

Letters - October 2021

It’s with great pleasure that I write this e-mail to you.
“GUN FREE SOUTH AFRICA welcomes draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill” When I receive Servamus in the post, at the first opportunity, I remove the wrapping and scan through the contents. Typically, the in-depth reading would take place later.
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.