TEDTalks – The problem with eyewitness testimony

April 10th, 2014

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference.

In the following TEDTalks video, Scott Fraser, a forensic psychologist who studies how humans remember crimes and bear witness to them, discusses how fallible eyewitness testimony can be and suggests that even close-up eyewitnesses to a crime can create “memories” they couldn’t have seen.

Why? Because the brain abhors a vacuum.

It’s a topic of particular interest that not only illustrates the subjective nature of eyewitness testimony, but also indirectly highlights the issue of how valuable crime scene evidence is to an investigation as the information gathered at a scene can help to either prove or disprove what a witness may have “seen” and “remembered”.

Please note: In the original version of this talk, Scott Fraser misspoke about available footage of Two World Trade Center (Tower 2). The misstatement has been edited out for clarity. To view the original video, please click here.

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Crime scene clean-up: Not for the faint-hearted

April 3rd, 2014

The following is an excerpt from an article first published in the March 2014 (Vol. 107, Issue 3) edition of Servamus by Katie Geldenhuys:

Roelien Schutte and Eileen de Jager from Crime Scene Clean-up

A crime scene can be a messy place. When someone has been killed, blood and other body fluids are spilled all over the scene. Once police

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investigators have completed their investigations at a crime scene, it is no longer the police’s responsibility, and the result is that the grieving family members are left with a bloody, messy room to be cleaned.

It is the responsibility of the victim’s family to remove the bloody evidence of a violent death. For many people, the trauma of cleaning up their loved one’s blood intensifies their loss. Fortunately, there are people, such as Roelien Schutte and Eileen de Jager from Crime Scene Clean-up, who are skilled in cleaning up a violent death scene.

SERVAMUS spoke to these two sisters, whose business is to ease the pain of those who have lost a loved one through a violent death. Roelien says that they started their business in South Africa in October 2000 after they had an opportunity of cleaning crime scenes in the UK when they were much younger. To them, it is not just a job – it is their passion and calling in life. Although they work nationally, they realised at one stage that they cannot do this on their own. Therefore, they established franchises nationwide and today, there are 16 franchises across the country. Roelien added that those who buy in are just

as passionate about the work as they are.

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The #OscarTrial: What we can learn about crime scene awareness

March 24th, 2014

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial has been making headlines for many months and whilst a number of issues are being focused upon, we wish to address one key element that has been the subject of much interest and debate, both in the court room and in the media, namely that of crime scene preservation.

Irrespective of the nature or profile of the persons involved in a particular case, securing a crime scene is of great importance and one that requires a high level of priority and understanding by all first responders as well as the general public.

Why should we secure a crime scene?

Ensuring that a crime scene is properly secured is important for a number of reasons.

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Live Facebook Q&A with David Swanepoel

March 13th, 2014

Join us for our first ever LIVE

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Q&A Facebook event with Human Identification Specialist and DNA Project trainer David Swanepoel.

Date: Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Time: 6pm – 7pm South Africa Time (GMT+2)

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/DNA-Project/102740366333

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The role of a forensic nurse in the medical investigation

March 5th, 2014

The following is an excerpt from an article that was published in the February 2014 issue of Servamus Magazine wherein they highlight the role a forensic nurse plays in the medical investigation.

The role of a forensic nurse in the medical investigation by Kotie Geldenhuys

Failure to preserve forensic evidence results in a low rate of conviction (Data and McQuoid-Mason, 2001). Trained doctors with the required experience in clinical forensic services are extremely scarce in South Africa, but trained forensic nurses will be able to assist and alleviate this shortage. The application of forensic nurses may be a major contribution towards victim empowerment in general and this action can contribute to an increased reporting rate of child abuse.

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Open Society Foundation for South Africa

March 3rd, 2014

The Open Society Foundation for South Africa, a grant-making organisation, is a member of the International Soros Foundations Network.

Their Chairman George Soros began his philanthropy in South Africa in 1979, funding scholarships for black students at the University of Cape Town. In 1993, Soros established the OSF-SA, just before the historic 1994 democratic election.

Throughout the

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institutions, and practices of an open, non-racial and non-sexist, democratic, civil society in which the rule of law and divergent opinions are respected. Their efforts focus on four main areas of activity: promoting public- and private-sector accountability; advancing civil society and socioeconomic rights; protecting the free flow of information and freedom of expression; and strengthening justice and equality.

To learn more about this amazing organisation, please visit their website: www.osf.org.za.

Applications and Nominations: National Forensic Oversight & Ethics Board

February 25th, 2014



The Minister of Police hereby requests applications from persons from outside the public sector who wish to serve as a member of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board or nominations of suitable persons to serve as a member of this Board. The applications by persons, or nominations of persons,

The National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board is established in terms of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act, 2013 (Act No. 37 of 2013) that was assented to by the President of the Republic on the 27 January 2014. In terms of the Act, the Minister of Police is required to appoint the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board.

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2nd Annual Forensic Science Services Conference 2014

February 14th, 2014

This last week Carolyn and I have been spoilt for choice in having the opportunity to attend as well as present at what can only be described as a world class event: the 2nd Annual Forensic Science Services (FSS) Conference which was held this last week in Pretoria from the 10th to the 13th February 2014.

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DNA Act a monumental step forward for SA

February 14th, 2014

The promulgation of the new DNA Act in January was a “monumental step forward” for South Africa as the nation battled high levels of crime, but an easy implementation should not be expected, writes Natasha Odendaal for Engineering News, 13 February 2014.

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DNA Bill Panel Discussion

February 13th, 2014

Date: 13 February 2014

Time: 12:00 – 14:00

Venue: Melrose Arch African Pride Hotel

1 Melrose Square

Melrose Arch

Johannesburg, GAU 2196, ZA

+27 11 214 6666

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