Health Department stalling on key crime-fighting tool

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Read Megan Geldenhuys and Palesa Manaleng’s article on the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act, otherwise known as the ‘DNA ACT’. The article looks at how the to-be-established National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD), will aid law enforcement officials as a tool to help solve violent crimes in South Africa.

The crime statistics released by the SAPS at the end of the year indicated that there had been an increase in violent crimes within the country, where 45 murders are taking place every day. The “DNA Act”, amends our current criminal justice legislation to introduce mandatory forensic DNA analysis into South Africa’s investigation of crime.
Currently, the SAPS’s existing DNA database has been under functioning, without a legislative mandate that requires the taking of DNA samples at every crime scene. The NFDD will store DNA profiles taken from crime scenes to compare them against DNA samples taken from arrested and convicted persons.
According to the SAPS 2012/13 Annual Report, forensic backlogs have increased to 34.3%, with only 230 854 of a total of 400 284 exhibits processed within the required time. For example, it takes an average of 26 weeks (or half a year) to analyse blood samples for alcohol at the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory in Pretoria, according to Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi. The failure to provide timely analysis of forensic evidence creates delays in the investigation of cases, which holds up a prosecution. The new DNA Act, once in operation, should go a long way to alleviating these frustrations.

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Continue reading here

Listen to a podcast by Palesa Manaleng on the new bill and the process involved in DNA collection here

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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