Despite a steady decline in the successful processing of DNA by the SAPS forensic laboratory services over the years, the country’s four laboratories completed 525 538 cases during the 2022-23 financial year.
The number of completed cases increased from the 298 439 registered during the prior financial year.
“The total number of cases finalised is higher than those registered because it included the backlog carried over from the previous financial year. The set target of 90% was achieved,” reads the annual report of the DNA board.
The report, which was tabled recently in Parliament, detailed that the analysis of data for 2022-23 showed an improvement in the reduction of the backlog by 63.8% from 154 204 cases at the end of 2021-22 to 55 681 at the end of 2022-23.
Board acting chairperson Raymond Sono said the board was intrinsically involved in the down management of the DNA backlog that was ring-fenced and prioritised in June 2021.
“The board continually engaged the SAPS on progress reports regarding the clearing of the ring-fenced backlog.
“The board is happy to report that most of the ring-fenced backlog has been cleared. The board continues to actively work with the SAPS to ensure that DNA backlogs remain within globally accepted levels and to ensure mechanisms that are put into place remain capable of keeping the DNA backlogs within acceptable levels,” Sono said.
In its report, the DNA board said out of the DNA intelligence exhibits generated from matters where there were no suspects identified, 8 266 were completed within the specified 90 calendar days.
“This means the target of 80% as per the forensic science laboratory has been achieved.”
The board also reported that a total of 10 404 DNA cases with matches were completed during 2022-23 financial year.
“This is commendable considering that during the 2021-22 financial year only 3 828 DNA cases were matched to the arrested suspects.
“For the 2022-23 financial year, 1589 cases serial case reports were issued, an uptick from the previous financial year which indicated a finalisation of 779 serious cases,” reads the report.
According to the report, only 39.70% buccal sample profiles were completed within the prescribed time period with the remaining 60.30% being completed outside 30 calendar days.
There were 12 673 trial ready gender-based violence cases wherein reports were prioritised by the laboratories, an increase from 10 493 cases in the prior year.
The report also showed that forensic science laboratories recorded an 83% compliance rate on the extraction of buccal samples.
“The compliance rate stands at 81/7%, meaning the target of 100% has not been achieved.”
There were 362 686 schedule 8 offenders arrested and charged during the period under review, but only 296 574 buccal samples were completed.
The DNA board also said all the procurement contracts were reported to be in place except for the DNA isolation kit contract, which was pending completion of the tender process.
“The board also noted that systems have been put in place to monitor the availability of evidence collection kits at all police stations through inventory and weekly reporting.
“However, the board is concerned that some provinces are still not fully compliant and this results in inventory running out while the late order is till being processed at headquarters.
“The consequence of this is non compliance with the sampling of all persons arrested and charged with schedule 8 offences.”
The DNA board warned that the shortage of crime kits and buccal samples might have a ripple effect.