More than 36 000 sexual offence cases are allegedly outstanding in the Western Cape due to the backlog of DNA specimens not processed at SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). Photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency
More than 36 000 sexual offence cases are allegedly outstanding in the Western Cape due to the backlog of DNA specimens not processed at SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). Photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency

Thousands of DNA specimens in sexual violence cases not processed

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Sep 9, 2021

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Cape Town - More than 36 000 sexual offence cases are allegedly outstanding in the Western Cape due to the backlog of DNA specimens not being processed at SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL).

That was revealed during the DA's digital press conference on the DNA backlog related to gender-based violence (GBV) cases at the FSL in Cape Town.

The conference, held by MPLs Gillion Bosman and Reagen Allen, shed further light on the extent and nature of the backlog and announced steps to ensure that the matter was addressed with urgency.

Bosman said he had submitted a dossier to the President’s National Council on GBV outlining the status of GBV in the province and the enormous backlog of DNA cases related to GBV at the FSL.

"Our request is that the council facilitate the collaboration of SAPS with the private sector to outsource DNA processing so that the backlog is eradicated as an urgent priority. This is well within the mandate of the GBV and Femicide national strategic plan," said Bosman.

Allen said, previously, the processing backlog of DNA samples had exploded by a 300% increase, and it was already then clear that solving GBV cases, in particular, were severely undermined.

Police spokesperson Brenda Muridili said the laboratory had encountered difficulties to secure service and maintenance contracts of the semi-automated instruments and procure some consumables.

Muridili said although there were few bid contracts that still needed to be finalised, the laboratory was making use of quotation procurement options to service and maintain the instrument and buy the consumables to analyse the DNA exhibit material.

She said the management of the biology section in the FSL had implemented a DNA backlog recovery plan to deal with the processing of the buccal samples and crime scene exhibit material.

“The plan has already been implemented to address the current situation,” said Muridili.

Advocacy group Action Society’s spokesperson Elanie van der Walt said, according to the police, the DNA backlog would only be eradicated by November 21, 2022, as was discussed at the Portfolio Committee on Police meeting held on August 24.

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