PRETORIA – To round up women’s month edition of women in law enforcement, meet Captain Retha Viljoen, a Ballistics Expert attached to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Pretoria. Born and bred in Pretoria, the 43-year-old member has 21 years’ service having joined the organisation in 2000.
She holds a BA degree in Criminology as well as an Advanced Certificate in Forensic Criminalists, specialising in forensic ballistics. As a ballistics expert, Captain Viljoen analyses firearms, ammunition, and similar ballistics-related evidence in a bid to solve criminal cases committed with the use of a firearm.
On a daily basis Captain Viljoen is responsible for the following:
- To examine firearms, ammunition, fired cartridge cases, and fired bullets and tool marks.
- To examine the angle and distance from where the gun was fired
- To determine which firearm was used in the commission of a crime
- The reconstruction of crime scenes with regard to the evidence at hand and appear as an expert witness in court
The member has to date worked on and examined at least 6346 cases that involved the use of firearms. During her illustrious career, the member has assisted in securing multiple life sentences for those who were behind crimes involving the use of firearms.
The member recalls a case that still remains etched in her memory, the 2008 Jeppestown Massacre that saw four police officers attached to the West Rand Flying Squad and K9 unit lose their lives. The member was instrumental in a judgment that saw those behind this brutal killing being handed down life sentences.
“At the time of the incident, four SAPS members were responding to an armed robbery at a local retail store in Jeppestown when they pounced on an identified address. A shootout ensued, and sadly, four members of the SAPS were certified dead on the scene, eight of the armed robbers were also killed in the shootout, the remaining 15 gang members were surrounded.”
“This case was the most painful crime scene I had to attend to because my fellow colleagues paid the ultimate price doing what they did best and that is to safeguard the people of South Africa. I’m glad at the end, each accused received four life sentences each”.
“I am appealing to South Africans to report any knowledge of individuals in possession of unlicensed firearms to the SAPS Crime Stop number 08600 10111 or to send a tip-off on MySAPS App to stop the senseless killings of ordinary people living in South Africa”.
To qualify as a Ballistics Expert, an individual needs to be in possession of a diploma or degree in Criminology, Metallurgical Engineering, and also undergo the necessary internal prescribed training.
To Captain Viljoen and other female ballistics experts, we appreciate the work that you do.