Home South African No cases withdrawn due to DNA backlog, says Cele

No cases withdrawn due to DNA backlog, says Cele

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Police Minister Bheki Cele said that the National Prosecuting Authority and the SAPS prioritising DNA backlog matters has resulted in no cases being withdrawn due to a lack of DNA reports.

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Oupa Mokoena, Independent Newspapers

POLICE Minister Bheki Cele said that the National Prosecuting Authority and the SAPS prioritising DNA backlog matters has resulted in no cases being withdrawn due to a lack of DNA reports.

“A total of 41,855 gender-based violence and femicide-related (cases) have been successfully enrolled in the 2023/24 financial year,” Cele said.

He said the number of prioritised cases enrolled successfully were 7,611 in 2021/22, 20,492 the following year and 28,103 in 2023/24.

Cele was responding to DA MP Andrew Whitfield who had asked about the current backlog for DNA samples collected in 2022/23 and from March 2023 to date.

The SAPS has been saddled with a backlog of DNA samples and case exhibits over the past few years and earlier this year. Cele had claimed that the backlog was cleared.

In his written reply, Cele said the historical DNA backlog, which was at one stage standing at 241,152 and increased by 4.33% to 251,693, was eradicated during 2023.

“The laboratory is currently finalising both old and new case exhibits while some are prioritised for analysis as per the court-directed requests,” Cele said.

“The finalisation rate for 2023/24 financial years, as at March 25, 2024, is 89.58%.”

He added that they were expecting an increase of finalised entries by the end of the fourth quarter.

Cele said a total of 9,758 entries not yet finalised, exceeding the prescribed timeline, were outstanding for the 2022/23 financial year.

The minister said a total of 77,889 biology 212 statements, also known as DNA reports, were issued in the last two financial years.

“A total of 42,179 biology 212 statements were issued in the 2022/23 financial year.

“A total of 35,710 were issued in the 2023/24 financial year as at February 29, 2024,” he added.

Cele also revealed that the National Forensic DNA Database has been successfully used as an investigative tool in the identification of serial rapists and murderers, and multiple offenders.

The SAPS is obliged in terms of the Criminal Law Amendment Act to take DNA samples from all persons convicted under Schedule 8 offences.

The offences include murder, rape, sexual assault, any sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled and child stealing.

Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the commencement of parts of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act, which provides police with additional tools around DNA collection and usage in capturing and prosecuting criminals.

The SAPS commissioner is now empowered to lodge an application to a judge or a magistrate for a warrant against a prisoner who refuses to submit to the taking of his or her DNA sample.

According to Cele, the laboratory has generated about 2 million forensic DNA profiles in the last two years.

“The laboratory generated 856,814 active forensic DNA profiles in the 2022/23 financial year.

“The laboratory generated 1,181 975 active forensic DNA profiles up until the third quarter of the 2023/24 financial year,” Cele said.

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