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Portfolio committee on police adopts the DNA Bill, sends it to Parliament for approval

The DNA bill proposes the removal of the time limitation on the taking of buccal samples from already convicted (and imprisoned) offenders. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

The DNA bill proposes the removal of the time limitation on the taking of buccal samples from already convicted (and imprisoned) offenders. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 19, 2022

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Cape Town - The portfolio committee on police adopted the report on the Criminal Law Forensic Procedure Amendment Bill (B25-2021) without any amendments on Wednesday.

The committee last week adopted the bill, confirming that all clauses and sections applicable to it had been approved before moving forward for parliamentary approval.

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The purpose of the bill is to make provisions for the full implementation of certain transitional arrangements contained in the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act, 2013.

When enacted, the act would compel the government to take DNA samples of schedule 8 offenders and add them to the convicted offenders’ database before the said offenders were released on parole.

It also proposes removal of the time limitation on the taking of buccal samples from already convicted (and imprisoned) offenders and further imposes several reporting requirements on the national police commissioner and correctional services.

It also allows for an authorised person, assisted by correctional officials, to use minimum force against an offender who refuses to submit to the taking of a buccal sample under the authority of a warrant.

Chairperson of the portfolio committee Tina Joemat-Petersen, who believed everything was done according to the book, said the report would be taken to the National Assembly.

Joemat-Petersen said: “We will ensure that we keep our eye on the ball and that we won’t let it slip through our fingers so that we don’t allow it to take very long.”

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Action Society director of community safety Ian Cameron said the organisation was extremely pleased with the progress made.

“Action Society cannot emphasise the urgency of getting this amendment finalised enough.

“The approval of this Amendment Bill is long overdue and has been neglected since 2019. The longer it takes for this amendment to get finalised, the more murderers and rapists get released without their DNA samples being taken,” he said.

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Cameron said almost 100 000 violent criminals have been released since 2016 without submitting a DNA sample.

“Taking DNA samples of all convicted schedule 8 offenders (rape, murder, human trafficking, robbery, and culpable homicide) is not something that should be debated at all. DNA speaks for itself and is one of the best crime-fighting tools that we have at our disposal,” Cameron said.

Activist Caroline Peters said with the current massive DNA backlog it was not clear how this would be dealt with, which she said would add to the burden.

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