Tuesday, August 25, 2009


With the popularity of TV programmes like CSI, the public are becoming more aware of the important part forensics can play in solving crimes and securing convictions. There is however a great lack of training for medical doctors when it comes to the forensic examination of abuse and rape victims. This has often resulted in low convictions in such cases.

A group of medical practitioners from hospitals in Cape Town, as well as forensic social workers based at the Cape Town Child Protection Units was part of a group who received specialised training in Welgemoed last week. This training included subjects like Child Abuse, Injuries, Crime Kit and Anal Abuse and the focus of the training was to ensure that doctors know how to deal with the medical examination of a rape or an abuse victim. Dr Tromp Els, one of only a few forensic experts in this field travelled from Lichtenburg to do the training. Dr Els has done medical examinations on more than 3000 rape victims and was keen to share his wealth of knowledge.

Doctor Els shared his fear of South Africa not having enough forensic doctors who could testify and train new generations of doctors. He also stressed the responsibility of doctors to report any suspicious injury and to ensure the welfare of the victim. Stressing the legal implications of not reporting these crimes were Adv Lizelle Africa (NPA) who did a training session on the new legislation, court procedures and defence tactics. Many doctors are terrified to testify in court because they are unsure of what is expected from them. This often results in doctors not wanting to report suspected abuse.

Like the police, the doctors working in the casualty departments, are exposed to severe trauma, especially with child rape and abuse cases. It is often expected from them to establish a relationship with a child, gain the trust of that child and do a extremely traumatic medical examination of the rape victim – all of this within ten minutes. It is therefore essential that they need to be aware of what they are looking for, how to identify sexual abuse wounds and ensure minimum trauma to the child.

All the attendees could not stop speaking about the value of the course and were keen to take the knowledge back to their own hospitals. The two day course was ended of with a certificate ceremony and was made possible by the kind donation of Rotary Claremont.

Matla A Bana, a NGO established by ex-hostage Monique Strydom, works to minimise the secondary abuse that child victims suffer when they report crime. This charity works very closely with the police and legal justice system and reaches thousands of abused children every year.

We would like to thank Rotary Claremont for making this training possible.


In an era where the cops in South Africa are criticized for being corrupt and not winning the war against crime, some Gauteng cops are proving the opposite. These are the cops dealing with rape and child abuse cases, stationed at the various cluster police stations. During the Malta A Bana Incentive Awards, hosted at Heia Safari Ranch, some of these top cops were honored for their dedication. Several of the winners cracked serial rape cases and secured long sentences, creating a safer environment for the public. Congratulations to our winners!

Best Performer 1st - Sgt Richards Garsfontein FCS is not a trained FCS investigator; despite this she set a high standard in the investigation of a rape case of a young girl.  She received the case nearly a year and a half after the incident occurred. The sergeant set up excellent communication between the forensic specialist, the prosecutor and herself.  The case was postponed 38 times, but the member made sure that she attended each court hearing. Her thorough investigation secured the arrest and conviction of the two perpetrators and five counts of life imprisonment (first accused) with twenty years for the second accused.

Best Performer 2nd  (Jointly) Constable R S Mareletse is receiving this award because of being consistant in solving and arresting cases. He secured a total of 69 years for three rapists in Sharpville and a life sentence in a rape case that took place in De Deur. In the beginning of the year the quick actions of this member save the life of a pedestrian who was knock down in front of him.

Best Performer 2nd (Jointly) Sgt Maile (Alexandra SAPS) faced all the odds when he was handed an old sexual abuse case. Not only was he new to this kind of investigation, but he had to find two medical evidence forms that went missing and deal with a prosecutor who did not believe the case could be won. Because of his dedication the perpetrator received two life imprisonment sentences for rape, 15 years for rape, eight years for attempted murder, 15 years for hi-jacking, 15 years for armed robbery, 5 years for kidnapping and 5 years for assault.

Outstanding Achievement

Captain Mawila investigated a serial rape case of twelve women in the Eersterust, Villieria and Mamelodi policing area. The member linked these cases with rape cases in Mpumalanga and Limpopo and soon a gang of three perpetrators were arrested. The member worked long hours to keep all the victims informed and to liaise with the state prosecutor. The perpetrators were found guilty of rape and robbery with aggravated circumstances and received life imprisonment. A previous winner, Inspector Arrie Prinsloo, once again showed why she is one of the top FCS cops when she cracked two case of serial rape. In the first case the perpetrators prayed on women waiting for taxis. They would drag them into the bush and then rape and rob them.  The suspects were arrested, but the case was dealt a blow when none of the victims could identify the suspects. It was however DNA evidence that resulted in the successful prosecution with four life sentences and 107 additional years. In the second case a gang of serial rapists were terrorizing women in the Weltevreden Park area, attacking them at the residences, raping and robbing them. Two suspects were arrested and once again thorough investigation resulted in this rapist being put away for life.

Best Station Commissioner - Director Baijnath of Krugersdorp SAPS is awarded for his dedication to implement supporting structures for the FCS detectives at his station. He has shown dedication to arrest rapist and child abusers by giving his FCS members his full support. He was also very supportive of the MAB projects at his police station, which boasts with a child-friendly reporting environment.  

Best FCS Unit and FCS Commander The Vanderbijlpark unit took the honors with having the best arrests and conviction rates for the period. Capt Mokoena, commanding officer of this unit, took the award for the best FCS Commander.  She is very supportive of her members and attends all Matla a Bana functions. She doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge her members or other role players when the job is done!

Service Excellence Award

Supt Heila Niemand (Randfontein FCS) was responsible for putting one of the worst child molesters behind bars. Dr Stephanus Potgieter was a well-know music teacher with a dark side – a love for small boys.  After investigating an indecent assault complaint on a 13 year old boy, Supt Niemand realized that this was the tip of the iceberg. Her investigation took her across South Africa, from Natal midlands to Cape Town. A total of 152 hours were spent to build a strong case. Not only did Supt Niemand secured the bona-fide help from private companies to assist with hard drive recovery, saving the state thousands of rand, but she also arranged for psychologists to assists with preparing victims for court. The perpetrator pleaded guilty on 44 charges of indecent assault and received 20 years of prison services. Captain Zwane (Provincial Coordinator Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences) is the second recipient of the Service Excellence Award for his continued dedication not only in solving crimes, but also in supporting his members. Because of his assistance it was possible for MAB to complete many projects with the FCS unit successfully.