The DNA backlog crisis in the Forensics Division of the South African Police Service (SAPS) now exceeds 300 000 cases and it is estimated that there is an average of four samples per case which would translate into approximately 1.2 million samples waiting to be analysed, according to Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Police, Andrew Whitfield.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentarian says the backlog has not yet been resolved despite Minister Bheki Cele stating otherwise. Cele had previously lauded the SAPS’ turnaround plan and indicated that the contract management system had been improved with most contracts having been awarded. Cele also assured will be a reduction in the backlog.
Procurement challenges, Whitfield believes, continue to undermine the turnaround plan resulting in the slow processing of cases.
The DA has covered this issue since the party exposed the critical shortage of rape kits at police stations across the country in 2019.
The arrest last week of 5-year-old Chantel Makwena’s rapist/murderer came after DNA results were finally processed some two years after her murder. Whitfield questions why it should take two years to process DNA samples in violent cases against vulnerable citizens, stating National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole must take full responsibility.
Whitfield now wants the Chairperson of the Police Portfolio Committee, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to invite Minister Cele, Police Commissioner Sitole, the National Forensic Science Laboratory and the DNA Board to appear before Parliament. Adding that the Portfolio Committee must investigate whether Cele misled Parliament about the progress in dealing with the backlog.
Whitfield concluded in saying, “This failure to timeously process DNA cases is clogging up the criminal justice system and denying justice to the thousands of victims and their loved ones.”