n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Making the invisible visible : the presentation of electronic (cell phone) evidence as real evidence in a court of law

Volume 25, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Previously when any crime, irregularities or transgressions were investigated and evidence was presented in a trial or hearing, it was based on the traditional methods and procedures. Today, evidence such as electronic mail (e-mail), electronic documents, spread sheets, cell phone technology and other formats of digital evidence is available as evidence for the prosecution. It appears that in South Africa the full potential and advantages offered to the criminal justice system by this technology have not been fully utilised. However, daily media reports indicate increased use of cell phone technology as evidence in criminal and civil prosecutions. Noting the advantages offered by cell phone evidence, research was conducted to determine its value. It was, however, discovered that cell phone evidence is not used as physical evidence in court cases but rather as circumstantial evidence. The primary aim was to determine, through exploratory research, whether an 'invisible' cell phone signal can be classified as physical evidence. By mapping a cell phone call, it was found that the invisible signal becomes visible and meets all the requirements for physical evidence. A proper exploration and understanding of the value of mapping cell phone calls and the presentation thereof as physical evidence will be to the advantage of the criminal justice system.

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