ATT: KZN Provincial Commissioner, KZN Communications, KZN Detectives, KZN Forensics, KZN Crime Intelligence, KZN Hawks, KZN Commanders & MembersCC: SAAI, TLU, AgriSA & AfriForum, Community Leaders & Committee’s, Safety & Security Agencies, ERPC Collaboration Network, Specialised Victim Support Dear All RE: HELP US! Crime Scene Management 7 – 14 Days We must improve – you
ATT: KZN Provincial Commissioner, KZN Communications, KZN Detectives, KZN Forensics, KZN Crime Intelligence, KZN Hawks, KZN Commanders & Members
CC: SAAI, TLU, AgriSA & AfriForum, Community Leaders & Committee’s, Safety & Security Agencies, ERPC Collaboration Network, Specialised Victim Support
RE: HELP US! Crime Scene Management 7 – 14 Days
We must improve – you can help the most.
Team, I have sent a formal request to the Forensics, Crime Intelligence, Hawks and the KZN Provincial Commissioner to ask that in their management meeting with the Provincial Head of Detectives, they relook at standing orders so that as far as possible, murder scenes are strictly contained and not handed back to the family or community for 7 – 14 days, a time frame in which you blink, and it is gone, and can not be reclaimed.
This helps to:
- Slow down the process allowing investigators the space to work, and partner up with multiple agencies and components.
- Give the Station Commanders, Detective Commanders and Specialised Components more time to guide the cases at station level, which is where we need to build capacity.
- Allow for better victim support and the extended multi agency collaboration to add value to the Investigating Officer investigation.
- Provide better support from SAPS local, cluster and Provincial Communications to the media and public, as there are often unintentional errors due to information still being processed and past on to Communications. The only information that the public could use to help support the 72 hour response plans are suspects, vehicle and stolen property descriptions which under most circumstances is critical.
There is no need to rush communications on other elements of the crime, as it is still being processed. I feel consideration should be given after the 72 hour response plan, as this provides a reasonable window period for SAPS Communications to update the full events accurately.
I believe that the partnership of SAPS Communications and our media is essential in these matters, and is a critical component in the investigation. They provide the platform for anger to be heard, empowerment of the victims, accurate information if the 72 hour response is taking place with a managed approach.
Whilst the public can sometimes be obsessed with all the gory details they simply don’t realise the cost involved for the victims, family, friends and local community who have not had time to process the incident or have at least 72 hours of personal time with SAPS before reading the headlines. Another critical aspect is that justice for all is not followed through in the right order, sometimes with catastrophic consequences.
Every bit of murder is public information including the gory details of the autopsy report if you want to get that granular but let’s get our process flows right as a country. We must always cause great public interest and desire for justice. We must increase our readership and participation for the victims, family SAPS and Police Ministry, which should be encircled by truthful reporting at the right time, and more importantly, justice.
Specialised Victim Support – Timeline
The family will always want to know what happened, and IO’s appointed to the case are often robbed of this time window, albeit unintentionally.
Witnesses will have ‘brain mush’ for days. Therefore a walkthrough with the IO is invaluable; but the only walkthrough family are often able to do is using the crime scene photographs, and it’s just not the same.
We all know that the family and friends of victims are only too willing to help.
The best you can do for them is:
- Offer family members a safe place to stay.
- Help them get through the body identification and the memorial/funeral.
- Lt the crime scene get processed thoroughly.
- Help with witness clarification of events a few days later.
The period after the memorial is the best time to seek additional assistance from the family and surviving victims, as they will then be able to focus more clearly on supporting the investigation.
I think all associations, both urban and rural, should take control of this, and help.
Our passionate plea to see change in our country is that even if the scene is handed back to you as the family, do all you can to hold off going back for a period of 7 to 14 days.
There are three things a human being just does not come back from;
- The loss of a child
- There is a fourth; you can never go back to the crime scene once cleaned up or contaminated. Always stack the cards in your favour and that of the victims to whom we all seek justice and whom we have loved and cared for.
A personal example:
The Mooi River Triple Murder
Primary Agencies: Kamberg Farm Association, SAPS Mooi River, PMB Crime Intelligence, PMB Hawks and Together SA CAN (NPO)
In the Mooi River triple murder, it was only on day two when the forensic teams went back, that a partial palm print was collected. It was found high on the tiled wall inside the kitchen. This print was made when one of the accused had taken off his gloves and stepped over Hilda’s body in the kitchen and leant high against the wall to do so. This is not commonplace for fingerprint dusting, but the team decided that you can’t have a triple murder and not find a mistake somewhere – and they were proven correct.
The Kamberg community and the family were also incredibly supportive and did not rush the processing of the scene. Even the bodies were only removed after making 100% sure that the team were ready to do so.
This partial palm print turned out to be what secured the life conviction of the accused more than any other element. The accused said he left it in the house several years previously during his employment. But what he did not know was that further testimony later proved that the wall was washed regularly in that area and that, even without regular cleaning, the print would not have lasted over that period.
The lesson? Methodical processing and allowing the necessary time so that the investigation process can take its course, works out to the advantage of all!
Please let me know your thoughts?
In love, light, dreams and tunnel-vision passion!
Brian Jones (SA7)
Brian’s Passionate Desk
Together SA CAN (NPO)
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