File photo: African News Agency (ANA).

PRETORIA - The South African Police Service (SAPS) has entered into a procurement contract with a company to supply a variety of evidence collection kits.

In 2017, reports of alleged corruption between a supplier and certain police officers emerged compelling the SAPS to stop purchasing evidence collection kits from that supplier, the police ministry and SAPS said in a joint statement on Sunday.

Before the termination of transactions with that supplier, the process of procurement and distribution of the rape kits was managed nationally by SAPS head office supply chain management. 

This meant that at national level, supply chain would procure the kits and distribute them throughout the country and the numbers were managed on a centralised system.

As time progressed, kits were being used but not replaced due to the termination of the contract. It was then that SAPS management had introduced a contingency measure by instructing provinces to start procuring these evidence collection (rape) kits on a quotation basis. This was done as and when the need arose, pending the finalisation of the awarding of a bid to single successful supplier.

"Police management is now happy to announce that, following a rigorous bid process, a contract to supply evidence collection kits has been entered into with a company on Friday, 16 August 2019," the statement said. 

The supplier would provide 13 different types of evidence collection kits, including adult sexual assault kits, paediatric sexual assault kits, and Buccal (swab) sample collection kits.

The first consignment of kits was received on Saturday and were being strategically distributed to provinces on Sunday to augment their existing stocks. A detailed distribution plan had been designed and implemented for this purpose. Further stocks of these kits would be received on an ongoing basis and distributed to provinces over the next three years.

Police Minister Bheki Cele had commended the rapid resolution to a problem which could have resulted in a crisis.

“We understood the urgency of this matter and it was corrected with speed. Going forward we won’t put people on the tenterhooks again. We take this issue seriously, especially when it relates to crimes against women and children. I stand by statements made in my past budget vote speeches. We will prioritise and intensify the fight against crimes targeting women and children and vulnerable groups,” Cele said.

National police commissioner Lt-Gen Khehla John Sitole said, "I want to assure the nation that between the time of the termination of [the] previous contract and granting of this latest contract we have put effective measures in place to ensure people received a desired service."

- African News Agency (ANA)