Forensic psychologist Lt Col Elmarie Myburgh spends hours watching reality TV crime shows, but she is not a fan of popular crime series such as CSI and the like. “These programmes don’t give an accurate reflection of the frustrations, hard work, and the time it takes to get results,” she says.


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To catch a killer

Since 2007, Peter Dashboy Khoza have kidnapped several young girls between the ages of eight and 14 and took them to the bushes in the Phalaborwa, Tembisa and Soweto areas.

Elmarie has assisted internationally acclaimed crime fiction writer Deon Meyer with research for his books and in 2018 she was a panellist during the Boekejol en Filmrolfees in Pretoria. Here she is in discussion with crime writers Schalk Schoombie and Charné Kemp.




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The role of a forensic psychologist


As an investigator in the South African Police Service's (SAPS's) Investigative Psychology Unit (IPU), Elmarie’s job sees her involved in intimate partner murders, muti murders and serial rapist cases.


Her team works closely with pathologists and other forensic experts who, according to Elmarie, have a symbiotic relationship.


She explains that in the end everything fits together like a puzzle: the forensic clues on the crime scene, the method used to kill, the wounds, signs of sexual abuse and the level of pain inflicted.


There he raped and sexually and physically assaulted them, before he left them to find their way home in the dark.


During his rampage, he was arrested and detained three times, but continued with the crimes as soon as he was released on bail.


In 2016 the police successfully apprehended him with the help of expert pathologists, forensic psychologists and crime scene investigators who are tasked with solving the country’s most heinous crimes. One of the experts was Lt Col Elmarie Myburgh, a proud alumna of the NWU’s campus in Potchefstroom.


Elmarie boasts the most practical experience in the field of forensic psychology in South Africa.After 21 years, Elmarie (48) has more than 50 serial murder cases, 70 serial rape cases and numerous other murder investigations under her belt.


She is also the only violent risk assessment expert employed by the South African Police Service. Elmarie was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2018.


Training nationally and internationally


As a leader in her field, Elmarie often delivers research papers and training workshops both nationally and abroad.


She develops training curriculums and presentations for several criminology and psychology courses and has lectured at the California School of Forensic Studies and the Alliant International University in Fresno.


Her own training includes a BA degree and two honours degrees: one in criminology and the other in in psychology, all obtained from the former Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. She followed this up with a diploma in criminal justice and forensic auditing at the former Rand Afrikaans University in 2004.


She has also undergone training at various institutions, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

As a student, Elmarie (far right) stayed at the Karlien residence. With her at a recent reunion are, from left, fellow alumni Celia Willms, Elmarie Weyer and Tharina Naude.

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