Our company turned 30 in 2022. Having opened our doors shortly before the advent of democracy in South Africa, it’s been 30 years of considerable social and legal change.
Over this time, Justicia Investigations has enjoyed sustained growth – without ever straying from our commitment to delivering investigations with integrity. We have clients today who were among those who first used our service 30 years ago, a fact that is a source of great pride to us.
As our long-serving team looked back over the years, we reflected on what has changed – and what has not – when it comes to the challenge of preventing, detecting and investigating crimes against businesses.
Significant legislative changes
Many of the laws introduced to give effect to South Africa’s Constitution had a direct impact on the context within which investigations are undertaken.
The suite of employment laws, including the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act, resulted in a raft of new rights and responsibilities applicable to employers, employees, and employee representatives.
The protection of workers against unfair labour practices necessitated that employers have defensible grounds for dismissal. As a result, our role as investigators became more important, as employers now needed to present sound evidence in order to prove charges against employees.
The advent of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) made the independent hearing of disputes accessible to all employees. This too was a development that increased the need for evidence-based arguments, and we continue to play a key role as witnesses for our clients in both in-house hearings and at CCMA disputes.
In our experience, the handling of disputes by the CCMA continues to be handled in a fair manner and most of the outcomes we see are reasonable.
With a value proposition that we would always undertake investigations with integrity, and a commitment to only obtaining evidence following legal and ethical means, adapting to the new labour laws was not a challenge for Justicia Investigations.
With time, South Africans became well aware of their constitutional rights, which in some instances has given criminals the upper hand.
More recent legislation, specifically the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), has had the effect of dramatically reducing the availability of information. Much of the information we could previously access online, legally and with ease, can now only be acquired via warrants for information. This is causing delays in and increasing the cost of investigations. In turn, we are playing an increasing role in advising our clients on the process of securing warrants.
Significant changes in both the laws of the country and in the capacity of the justice system have increased the cost and complexity of investigations, meaning that there needs to be a higher investment in prevention.
Whistleblowers: An increasingly valuable source of intelligence
The introduction of the Protected Disclosures Act in 2000, coinciding with an increased focus on corporate governance, saw an increasing number of employers recognising their obligation to have effective whistleblowing policies and mechanisms in place.
Today this means that a surprisingly high percentage of fraud schemes and other forms of workplace wrongdoing are identified through the investigation of whistleblowing reports. This South African trend matches the global findings of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). If you are in any doubt as to the role that whistleblowers are playing in fraud detection, read the ACFE 2022 report here.
The role that Justicia Investigations plays in supporting its clients when it receives whistleblowing reports is an invaluable one.
Being expert in the investigation of whistleblowing reports, we are in a position to review a report and advise the client on the best next steps to take to investigate the allegations.
Anonymous whistleblowing reports can at times alert you to a problem but lack sufficient detail to enable the client to conduct a suitably targeted investigation. In these cases we act as an independent intermediary that liaises with a whistleblower without revealing their identity to the employer.
Here is how this happens if the client has a report from an ethics hotline. The client advises its ethics hotline provider to relay to the whistleblower an offer that they engage with an independent investigator who will protect their anonymity. With the whistleblower’s agreement we engage directly with them. From this process we acquire valuable additional information that enables us to find evidence of the wrongdoing without requiring the whistleblower to be a witness, protecting their identity throughout the process.
When a whistleblowing report lands on your desk – or desktop – remember that the legally compliant and effective handling of an investigation into such a report can be a minefield, and that with our help you can proceed with greater confidence, and with improved results.
The changing nature of crime – and the use of technology
It may go without saying that the technology used by criminals to perpetrate fraud and theft has advanced considerably, and this is a global reality.
In South Africa, fraud and syndicate crime has become vastly more sophisticated. Consider the fact that in its raw state, a commodity such as chrome may not have been a priority target. Today, syndicates work in the service of those who have acquired processing and refining capacity, meaning that it is not only finished goods but all freight that is at risk in transit.
This reality has coincided with the decline in the capacity and effectiveness of South Africa’s railways system. This decline has in turn caused a massive shift to road transport, setting the scene for the increase in truck hijackings.
Fortunately there has been a concurrent increase in the types of technology available for use in crime prevention and detection, and these are becoming increasingly affordable.
As Justicia Investigations is not a technology vendor, we are an invaluable, independent advisor to our clients who wish to spend wisely when selecting and deploying security solutions. Our independent security risk assessments typically open our client’s eyes when it comes to their awareness of what is available and what we found to prove effective. They can then go to the market for quotes, confident that they will be able to compare like for like rather than finding themselves with three different quotes for incomparable solutions.
One of the technologies that has long been a feature of security systems is CCTV. Knowing (or hoping) that the culprits will be caught on camera and that this will enable their apprehension, while providing strong evidence in disciplinary and criminal cases, was the CCTV value proposition.
Few businesses have not had the experience of turning to their footage once a loss has been detected, only to find that the camera has been redirected or that the event took place too far back for the film to still be accessible.
Today CCTV plays an invaluable and reliable role, not only in the post-event stage, but in the prevention and limitation of crime against businesses. This is achieved through offsite CCTV monitoring, a service in which we specialise. In fact this is such a powerful service that we have dedicated an article to it. Read “Off-site CCTV monitoring: A game-changer in crime prevention for an increasing number of businesses“, which you can find here.
When it comes to technology use in the actual investigation process, you may be of the view that the polygraph has reduced in application. This cannot be further from the truth. In fact, while the polygraph may not be used in isolation as grounds for determining guilt, it continues to play a critical role in other very important ways. We urge you to read our article, “Polygraphs: A growing, legitimate role in preventing and investigating workplace wrongdoing” which you can access here.
The importance of intelligence today – and how we help you get it
If there is one conclusion from our reflections on the past 30 years of investigations, it is this. The increasing time and expense involved in investigating crimes against businesses means that our clients need to allocate increasing resources to crime prevention.
We support our clients in a number of ways when it comes to crime prevention, and our security risk assessments play a critical role in this regard. Off-site CCTV monitoring, together with other technologies, are important in the prevention of crime and the quick detection of a crime event – reducing the amount of time available to the criminals to achieve their illicit goals.
Having intelligence in advance of or at the early stages of a crime against your business is the most powerful weapon available to you. One of the ways we deliver this is through our undercover operations. In fact, a number of our clients say they will never ‘do without’ it once they have experienced the ease with which we help you integrate our trained agents into your workforce – and the enormous value they deliver.
Whether it is to get to the bottom of a problem as a project, or as an ongoing approach to crime prevention, you will be surprised at how much value you gain from an undercover operative intervention. You can learn more about our service and its benefit in our article, “Undercover operatives playing a pivotal crime prevention role against businesses“, which you can find here.
We love to talk about the ways in which we can help our clients prevent, detect and investigate crime. If the few contributions we have highlighted in our review of the past 30 years in business have interested you, contact us for a conversation about your unique circumstances and needs.
Email us at email@example.com or call +27 (086) 000 5 111. Learn more about our integrated corporate crime prevention and investigations service at https://www.justicia.co.za/. We’d love to hear from you!