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Cape Town - A state-of-the-art DNA analysis machine that cost R75 million is gathering dust at the police forensic laboratory in Pretoria as the huge backlog of rape and sexual assault samples balloons, the DA claims.
DA MP and police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard said on Sunday that the machine was lying idle because the lab had run out of consumables like DNA primer kits, sample holders and the chemicals required to operate it.
The machine - the Genetic Sample Processing System - was a fully automated DNA profiling system and the only system of its kind in the world, Kohler Barnard said.
It could process up to 1 200 samples a week, compared to a semi-automated system which could process only around 400, and was used primarily to analyse rape and sexual assault samples.
“Once again, the current national police commissioner, (General) Riah Phiyega, brought into her position as a management expert, must answer for this,” Kohler Barnard said. “The DA expects her to report to Parliament on why key resources are not being ordered timeously.”
It followed reports that police stations around the country were running out of rape kits and were using kits designed for children to take samples from adults. The new kits were only expected to arrive at the end of the month.
“This is most certainly not the first supply chain management problem this year. Indeed this is a perennial problem in a crucial SAPS division that not only this national police commissioner has failed to attend to, but one which her now disgraced predecessor simply ignored,” Kohler Barnard said.
“What is going on in supply chain management at the SAPS that they are constantly running out of key resources, and why hasn’t the national police commissioner noticed that there’s a problem?”
She said she would write to the acting chairwoman of Parliament’s police portfolio committee, Annelize van Wyk, and ask that Phiyega report on this failure and her plans to fix it.
SAPS spokesman Brigadier Lindela Mashigo said he did not usually respond to claims by political parties. However, he asked Independent Newspapers to e-mail questions, which had not been answered by the time of going to press.