A Mamelodi man accused of raping and murdering a woman has argued that the DNA evidence linking him to the crime has little value because the forensic laboratory in Pretoria was not internationally accredited.
The quality control commander of the police’s forensic science laboratory, Colonel Kate Simon, admitted none of their science laboratories was accredited. But she insisted this was not an indication they were not competent.
South Africa’s police science laboratories tested between 25 000 and 26 000 samples per quarter and dealt with the highest number of samples taken in the world.
She said the laboratories already used standard and internationally acceptable tests and had a quality management system, which provided assurance and traceability of all equipment, standards and controls used. Each analyst had to take part in proficiency testing once a year.
Simon said they had officially applied for accreditation last month, but were still waiting to be assessed. They had to comply with international standards before they could apply.
“According to me, everything is already in place in the laboratory. The benefit of accreditation is that it will be an independent body, not part of the police, confirming your competency.
“Not being accredited does not say that you’re not competent. It just says you were not assessed by an independent accreditation body,” she said.
She conceded that problems with the collection and storage of DNA material could influence the DNA results. But she said one could not question the results simply because of the lack of accreditation.
The prosecution called Simon to testify after Advocate Francois van As, who represents murder and rape accused Ntokoza Daniel Masango, 26, submitted in his heads of argument that the nonaccreditation of the laboratory had deteriorated the evidential value of the DNA to such an extent that it had very little, if any, probative value in the case.
Masango pleaded not guilty to raping and murdering Katlego Ndlovu in Mamelodi in September 2014.
The state alleges he had given Ndlovu and her boyfriend a lift that day but then dropped off her boyfriend and continued on with Ndlovu.
Her naked body was found the next day in the veld by a passer-by. She had died of blunt-force trauma to the head and manual strangulation.
The state presented evidence that DNA analysis linked Masango to semen recovered from Ndlovu’s body.
The trial continues. – email@example.com