Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Tanya Flowerday: Snuff Victim?

Internal Investigation

A week into the new year, fresh headlines exploded onto the front pages. This time it had nothing to do with snuff movies, but dealt with police corruption.

Insp. Christelle Steinhöbel was arrested on January 7, 2005.

An informant who had helped her with the Tanya Flowerday case, Heinrich Rheeder, accused Insp. Steinhöbel of defrauding him. The South African Police Service had approved an amount of R12,000 ($1,967) as payment for his work on the case. However, Insp. Steinhöbel had only given him R1,800 ($295). Apparently, he only realized the true amount that he should've received during a visit from other police officers. Rheeder claimed that, instead of the official form, the detective had given him a photocopied page to sign as receipt. The two police witnesses, as required, weren't present. His signature on the form that she had given to the police, confirming receipt of the R12,000, was a forgery.

This wasn't the real beginning of Insp. Steinhöbel's woes, however. In September of 2004 she had granted an interview to a journalist from the women's magazine, Sarie. This was against regulations, since only official police spokespersons may speak with the media, unless explicit permission is granted. Some of her statements in the article also antagonized senior detectives and officials. Consequently, not long after the magazine appeared towards the end of October, she was transferred to another unit, pending investigation.

On May 5, 2005, the fraud and theft charges against Insp. Steinhöbel were dropped, since forensic analysis by handwriting experts had shown that the "forged" signature was in fact authentic. The internal investigation related to the Sarie article, however, remained in place.

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