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MPs pass law to force prisoners convicted of rape, murder to have DNA samples taken

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Political parties said the law will open the door for people who are convicted of rape, murder and other violent crimes to be linked to previous crimes.

File picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

LAWMAKERS have unanimously passed a law that will force people convicted of Schedule 8 offences, including rape and murder to have DNA samples taken.

Deputy Minister of Police Cassel Mathale told Parliament on Tuesday that they will do their best to immediately implement the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Bill after President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed it into law.

Political parties said this law will open the door for people, who are convicted of rapes, murders and other violent crimes, to be linked to previous crimes.

MPs also said that since 2017 almost 100,000 prisoners who had been in jail for violent crimes were released without their DNA samples taken and some could have committed more crimes while out.

MPs said there were criminals who had slipped the net because of the delay in passing this law. But after the National Assembly passed the bill this would close the loophole in the system and people convicted of violent crimes can be traced and linked to other crimes.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh said during the release of the SAPS crime statistics for October to December last year 11,000 rape cases were reported and more than 6,800 murders committed in the country.

“If we step away from the statistics for a moment we are left with thousands of families mourning their loved ones and thousands of lives destroyed by violent aggressive acts,” said Singh.

EFF MP Henry Shembeni said they fully support the law as it would crack down on serious and violent crimes.

“The history of crime in this country is replete with repeat offenders who commit the same kind of crime over and over again. We now know that it is more likely that people who commit crimes such as murder and rape are likely to do these crimes again if measures are not put in place that these criminals are locked up for a long time. DNA has proven to be a key that can be used to apprehend these criminals,” said Shembeni.

DA member Andrew Whitfield said the government had delayed in implementing the law.

He said as a result thousands of prisoners were released between 2017 and 2021 without their buccal samples taken. This was a serious mistake on the side of government.

ANC MP Ntaoleng Peacock said this bill has brought parties to work together.

She said it will solve many unsolved cases.

The new law would also send a message to criminals that government was serious in fighting against gender-based violence, she said.

Mathale said they will ensure they start with the implementation of the law.

“We want to commit to the House that once the bill is assented to, as the SAPS we are ready to implement this legislation,” said Mathale.

The bill has been referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

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