Pietermaritzburg investigative data analyst Thereza May Botha has developed a system that uses cellphone records to place a suspect at the scene of a crime.
In the Pietermatritzburg High Court her testimony based on the system has placed several ATM bombers at the scene of shattered cash machines. A number of people have been shot dead or wounded in some of the incidents.
Botha’s expertise will also be used in the Port Elizabeth prosecution of Christopher Panayiotou charged with the murder of his teacher wife Jade.
Botha testified in the marathon trial of the 24 convicted of two cash heists in the Pongola High Court in 2012. At the end of that trial she was complimented by Judge Jan Combrink.
Botha is now employed by the Fidelity Security company.
In the current ATM bombing case, the cellphones of the 10 accused were seized by the police near Mtubatuba in Zululand. Their SIM cards were submitted for digital extraction by a SAPS forensic laboratory.
Botha’s system also indicated communication between members of the group and where it took place.
Unknown to the accused, their cellphones “clocked in” at each tower they passed on the way to and from Utrecht. From Johannesburg one passed Denver, Benrose, Heidelberg, Bothaskraal and Rooikop.