The Forensic Science Laboratory in Plattekloof deals with a variety of forensic disciplines, and evidence for crime and court cases. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
The Forensic Science Laboratory in Plattekloof deals with a variety of forensic disciplines, and evidence for crime and court cases. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

DNA machine used in GBV cases has not worked since 2019 - claim

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Jun 22, 2021

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Cape Town - Civil society organisations have expressed outrage over the alleged non-functioning robotic machines that were supposed to aid in processing DNA samples related to gender-based violence (GBV) cases that have allegedly been out of order since 2019.

The DA’s provincial spokesperson on social development, Gillion Bosman, said this had been brought to their attention during a recent oversight visit to the police Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) in Plattekloof.

Bosman said the machines were used to process crime samples faster than the manual process.

“However, the contract to maintain these machines came to an end in May 2019. Since then, there has been no urgency from national policing structures to ensure that a new tender process is initiated to continue with maintenance.

“Furthermore, the national structure has also neglected to maintain procurement of reagents for the robotics and manual systems to function efficiently,” he said.

Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said the matter was deeply concerning, as the country had one of the world’s highest rates of GBV and femicide (GBVF).

“This means that victims and survivors of GBVF won’t get the justice they deserve, and matters of this nature further reveal to us that we lack the adequate leadership to address the scourge of GBVF,” said Monakali.

The Great People of South Africa founder Zintle Khobeni said this was yet another indication of how dysfunctional the criminal justice system and its police department was.

“We are concerned about the emotional impact on victims and their families, as their right to justice is being infringed upon by the SAPS inefficiencies. Failing to prosecute perpetrators due to evidence not being collected in a timely manner is another traumatic stress added to victims and their loved ones. This also adds to the backlogs that already exist in this department, and is unacceptable,” said Khobeni.

Fight Back SA director Nicole Mirkin said the government was breeding a culture of impunity among the predators who threatened the security and safety of women and children.

“Our national government cannot continue to lie to the electorate - the presidency cannot hide behind new legislation and policies that are supposed to help curb GBV, while the mechanisms used to process DNA samples have been out of operation for two years,” she said.

Bosman said he would write to the Commission for Gender Equality requesting its input and possible intervention on the matter. He said he would also engage with the National Treasury to look into aiding the FSL with procurement.

The Cape Argus was redirected to the national South African Police Service (SAPS) for comment. SAPS have yet to respond to queries.

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