959 Private Investigator Piet Beyleveld talks to The Star in Parktown about the role of DNA in catching criminals. 041113. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - Brigadier Piet Byleveld wishes the DNA Amendment Bill had come into effect 20 years ago.

He believes many rapes and murders would have been prevented had it been in place then.

The longest-serving murder and robbery investigator in the SAPS, who retired in 2010, said he always held DNA as the most important aspect of any crime scene.

Byleveld solved many high-profile cases - such as the Sheldean Human murder (2006); the Leigh Matthews abduction and murder (2004); the Joburg mine dump serial killer (2003); the Hillbrow serial rapist (2003); and the Kranskop serial killer (1996).

“DNA should be the first thing any detective thinks about. There is always a possibility that the suspect has been injured, that urine and spit could be at the scene. It’s vital to secure that evidence,” he said.

“The first thing I would do is cordon off a crime scene and get forensics in. Nobody must be allowed onto that crime scene.”

Byleveld used DNA to help solve some of his most famous cases.

Sipho Dube, also known as the mine dump serial killer, operated for four years before being caught. He was arrested for a similar case in the area. When Byleveld heard, he asked for Dube’s blood to be drawn.

It was tested to see if the DNA was a match with blood found at another crime scene.

Byleveld also used DNA to help convict the Wemmer Pan killer, Cedric Maake.

“I went back to the crime scene a week later and found a tissue there with semen on it. He had gone back to the scene. The main objective of a serial rapist and murderer is power and not sex,” said Byleveld.

He said DNA strengthened the State’s case.

“It is better than fingerprints. With DNA, there is no doubt. I believe this bill is fantastic. They must have the DNA profile of every person who has been arrested. This could have prevented more people from being murdered,” he said.

He said there had to be proper training of police officers because the chain of evidence was vital and a mistake should not be made.

“This has the potential to cut a lot of crime, but the first thing is that the detective must have a passion for the job.”

The Star