SAHRIS: using the South African Heritage Register to report, track and monitor heritage crime
Keywords: SAHRIS, heritage crime, objects, museum, digitization, integration
Abstract. South Africa has experienced a recent increase in thefts of heritage objects from museums and galleries around the country. While the exact number of incidences is not known, the increase in thefts is nonetheless apparent, and has revealed the weaknesses of the systems currently in place to respond to these crimes. The South African Heritage Resources Information System (SAHRIS) is an integrated, online heritage resources management tool developed by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) in 2011 in terms of Section 39 of the National Heritage Resources Act (NHRA), No. 25 of 1999. The system’s combined heritage resources and site and object management functionality has been expanded to provide an integrated, responsive tool for reporting heritage crimes and tracking the progress of the resultant cases. This paper reviews existing legislative frameworks and crime reporting and monitoring systems relevant to fighting heritage crime, and identifies current gaps in those responses. SAHRIS is presented as an innovative tool to combat heritage crime effectively in the South African context by offering a centralised, consolidated platform that provides the various stakeholders involved in reporting heritage crimes and locating and retrieving stolen objects with a means to coordinate their responses to such instances.