Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Crime Scene Cleaners - 'Born, Not Made'

analysis

Ever wondered who that person is who cleans up the chaos left behind after a violent death or a crime scene? You're about to find out.

As you walk past the police tape and through the entrance of the house, the first thing to hit you is the smell. Even while wearing a respirator the smell disorientates you. Only after a few moments can you recover and begin to take in the scene: wilting flowers on the dining room table, the black and red stains of the police's fingerprint powder all over the walls and floors, flies swarming through the house, the remains of a decomposing body in the master bedroom.

This is a weekly experience for Petro van der Westhuizen, owner of Crime Scene Solutions. It is Van der Westhuizen's job to ease a family's grief by cleaning up what is often left behind after a person has been killed, committed suicide or has died alone and gone undiscovered.

Van der Westhuizen has been working as a crime scene cleaner for over a year now. But she is no stranger to this kind of work, having spent 21 years in the police force as a crime...

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