Modern investigations demand scientific tools in the form of forensic science because of the sophistication of crime.
15% of homicide cases resolved a year
Many criminal cases remain unresolved because of absence or lack of resources to engage forensic investigators. A study by Dr Sungai Mazando, a forensic genetics specialist and senior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe for example states that Police solve about 15% of homicide cases each year.
A prosecutor who declined to be named said gathering of forensic evidence in Zimbabwe is almost non-existent and the State has to rely on eyewitnesses testimony and physical evidence that does not undergo forensic examination. This is almost archaic.
Police Forensic Unit overwhelmed
ZRP national spokesperson, Paul Nyathi recently said that Police Forensic Unit (PFU) is overwhelmed by challenges forcing Police to outsource to private entities that are swamped themselves.
PFU is found in Harare only and yet it serves the whole country.
Forensic: a must for commerce
Forensic investigation is not just for common crime but has always become a potent weapon against commercial crime. It is therefore a must for businesses according to an interview carried out by The Mirror with a forensic investigator.
Forensic Investigator Melusi Chasura speaks to Mirrorís Sydney Ncube
Mirror Reporter Sydney Ncube (SN) caught up with Forensic Expert Melusi Chasura (MC) who is into private practice and discussed issues related to forensics and its role in modern day investigations. Chasura is a forensic investigator that businesses and the public can rely on for resolving cases mob: ………
SN:What is Forensic investigation?
MC: Forensic investigation is the gathering and analysis of all crime related physical evidence in order to come to a conclusion about a suspect.
SN: When did you begin the profession?
MC: I was introduced to Forensic investigations in 1997 when I was working at the Johannesburg (JHB) International Airport. By then I was working for Securicor Gray a London based international security company as a Senior Inspector. I was also in charge of Undercover Agents and trained them on how to gather information on crime related activities around the Airport.
In 2014 I joined an International Security Company called SVA Forensics based in JHB headquartered in Randburg as Senior Forensics Investigator. Our company was contracted to do forensic investigations for all retail stores under MassMart group namely, Game Stores, Builderswares, Markro Stores, Dion Stores, Hifi Cooperation stores and other international companies. My job was to gather information from suspects and interrogate them. As a qualified Polygraph Examiner I also polygraphed those suspects as a way of elimination of possible suspects.
A Polygraph test – popularly known as a lie detector test is a machine that measures physiological response in humans when they are questioned in order to determine if their answers are truthful. This is now called Forensic Science.
SN: What challenges did you face?
MC: In a Retail environment you find it challenging in dealing with suspects because sometimes you find out that your client or Store Manager was also involved or colluding with outside criminals to steal from his shop. For instance, one of my biggest break through is when I had to arrest half of the store staff including the sales manager who were in cahoots with the supplier to steal large volumes of Liquor from South Africa Breweries (SAB). The total cost of the liquor stolen was around R1 million. In that investigation I found out that even the big bosses from SAB were involved. In most of the stores I used to investigate, mostly Stores Managers or Sales Managers and their subordinates will be involved with outside criminals.
Every investigation I used to carry out I was supposed to compile a sound report with solutions and recommendations to the company executives. The recommendations include the opening of dockets and handing them over to the South African Police. The other recommendation is to keep the case internal and do disciplinary hearings.
SN: What’s the current position of this profession in Zimbabwe?
MC: In Zimbabwe this kind of service is scarce. By introducing it, we will help big companies and retails to recover or to mitigate their losses. Polygraph tests can be used to vet new employees in a company; it eliminates criminals by checking their records. This will also help our ZRP by giving them information or handing over cases to them after a thorough investigation has been completed.
In this vein we are trained to open a Docket on a company level which will be handed over to the Police for further investigations.
SN: Where did you train and what’s the relevance of the profession in the Zimbabwean context?
MC: I trained at SVA FORENSICS. Before that my handler meaning my practical trainer was Leroy Van Heeden who was the CEO of Logistics Protection Services. Leroy is a former South African Police Service (SAPS) intelligent operative and now is in America doing the same job. Here in Zimbabwe we can help the retail industry with real time management and minimizing in store theft and bank card fraud.
Sometimes when we get information about staff colluding with criminals in a certain store. We send our undercover agent equipped with secret body cameras being sunglasses, shirt buttons, a pen or watch cameras to record the whole scene for evidence which will be used in a disciplinary hearing or in court. In that we are taught to avoid entrapment; that is to induce or persuade someone to commit a crime that he had no previous intent to.
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