Forensic scientist Thabang Bogopa has solution to misuse of explosives
Pretoria - Forensic scientist Thabang Bogopa is championing a solution to aid the country in keeping track of its explosive reserves and help protect communities from criminals who recklessly use them to commit cash-in-transit heists.
Bogopa, a Master’s student at Unisa and winner of the Research and Innovation Challenge in 2019, is in the testing phase of his innovative Explosives ICT Control System funded by the university.
He said although he did not work directly in crime prevention, he was aware of how criminals in Gauteng, North West and Limpopo were using explosives illegally obtained from mines to wreak havoc in communities.
“We’ve often seen the negative impact of explosives being in the wrong hands and that’s why I believe having a system like this in place to help keep better track of these explosives may make a huge difference.”
He said in designing the software he hoped it would assist mines to integrate the legal requirements of explosives control in South Africa and assist with access control and supplement biometrics currently being used.
This, Bogopa said, would surpass current methods of just a metal detector normally used and instead use biometrics to check any body part for explosives or illegal materials that were not allowed to leave the premises of the mine.
He added that the system went further in that it had a geographical benefit of being able to tell the mines what type of rock they were dealing with and how much explosive would actually be needed on any given day.
“The system can be monitored by management from the comfort of their office, but also help them to save costs in the number of explosives they have to procure. As it stands now they purchase more explosives and have to destroy what is left.
“My goal is to grow within the criminal justice field and to help promote peace, security and justice in Africa, and also to merge the gap between academic research and innovation, and market-oriented research which solves real-life problems,” Bogopa added.
Police Minister Bheki Cele highlighted the issue of cash-in-transit heists being on the increase during the release of the second quarter crime statistics for 2020/21.
The police minister said there had been an increase in cash-in-transit heist figures, with armed gangs targeting cash vans becoming more desperate and ruthless.
He said this was evidenced by the police recording 24 more cases of cash-in-transit crime than the previous quarter.
He added that criminals were stopping at nothing to carry out their criminal acts, often doing so in public spaces near innocent bystanders.