n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Demystifying the meaning of forensic investigation : a qualitative case of South Africa

Volume 28, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The field of forensic investigation is often confronted with contestations that question whether it can be said to exist or not. These contestations, which frequently emanate from definitional dilemmas associated with the concept 'forensic investigation', are further exacerbated by an existence of the self-proclaimed forensic auditors, forensic accountants, commercial forensic detectives and forensic analysts who continue to sow misunderstanding around the existence or non-existence of forensic investigation fraternity in South Africa. This bifurcate debate is more audible in the commercial offences sphere where there is no agreement on who really investigates cases involving the business processes of the instructing client. The purpose of this article is therefore to dispel myths about the real definition of forensic investigation and to determine its existence in South Africa. In order to achieve this, those purporting to be forensic investigators were selected as research participants and one-on-one interviews were conducted after which the data was qualitatively analysed and triangulated with literature, to arrive at the conclusions. An analysis of the empirical data reveals that the definitional misconceptions about forensic investigation also complicate the realisation of forensic investigation as a discipline and as an existing industry in South Africa. However, through concept analysis and qualitative analysis of data, it would be concluded that forensic investigation does exist as an all-encompassing fraternity that includes accountants, auditors, analysts and detectives as different categories falling under this umbrella industry. As a remedial measure, this article proposes an alternative definition to the existing ones, which will be able to accommodate the processes followed by every practice believed to be having a forensic investigation function within the commercial crime and transgressions terrain.

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