It's all lies
By Liz Clarke
South Africa's billion-rand security and insurance industries, as well as police and investigative services, could be forced to rethink lie-detecting strategies following an international probe into the reliability of polygraph testing.
Jacques Marnewicke, head of forensic investigations for insurance giant Sanlam, said that for some time his organisation had realised that polygraph testing should be treated with caution.
"We have used it as an investigative tool in in-house fraud claims, but never as a primary source of identifying a suspect. I would say its main advantage is in narrowing down the number of suspects in a case."
The polygraphing division of the South African Police Services in Pretoria, however, says it will not be swayed by the American investigation. Media liaison officer Francois Becker said: "We find it an accurate and invaluable tool in our investigations and certainly have no intention of scrapping it."
Shaun Webster, head of Securico - one of KwaZulu-Natal's largest security companies, said: "I don't say it is the only tool we use, but in most cases, the polygraph test confirms our suspicions - but I do agree it must be used correctly."
Although his testimony could ruin his career, Nothling said that he could no longer live with the "reality" that polygraph testing was "a profoundly flawed" procedure.
"It doesn't surprise me that a report of this nature has been done. Although I have no scientific evidence, I have suspected for some time that the results of polygraph tests are not always accurate. In fact, I would go as far as to say they are biased more against the truthful person than they are against those who are lying."
Nothling said that the day he beat the test by using "certain techniques" available over the Internet was the day he realised it was no longer a reliable-enough tool to establish innocence or guilt. "I think it is playing Russian roulette with people's lives and careers," he said. "We all want a crime-free society, but not when criminals are getting away with their activities and the innocent are possibly being victimised."
Published on the Web by IOL on 2002-10-12 20:04:01
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