News / South Africa

Marizka Coetzer
1 minute read
22 Sep 2021
6:20 am

DNA test backlog ‘delaying justice’

Marizka Coetzer

No justice for more than 240 000 victims as the backlog of DNA tests creates chaos in the criminal justice system.

Picture: iStock

Over the weekend, Police Minister Bheki Cele visited several forensic laboratories and expressed concern over a backlog of about 240 000 DNA samples that needed to be analysed.

Freedom Front Plus president Dr Pieter Groenewald said what made the situation more untenable was that President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister Cele and national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole have repeatedly acknowledged the crisis and promised to address it.

“The number of outstanding tests have increased by 64 844 since February,” Groenewald said.

He said some of the cases have been delayed for almost three years due to outstanding tests.

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Action Society spokesperson Elanie van der Walt said Cele admitted police were at fault.

“According to sources in the laboratory, there is anything between one to 12 samples of DNA evidence in any case, with an average of four samples per case, so the real backlog is close to 1.2 million pieces of evidence. In his latest statement he refers to 240 000 samples.”

Prof Jaco Barkhuizen, head of the department of criminal justice at the University of Limpopo, said in any other functioning country the minister and the commission of police would have resigned in shame.

Criminal law expert Dr Llewellyn Curlewis said SA’s criminal justice system was in chaos.

“If the forensic material evidence is not available to a court then chances of a successful conviction is very slim,” Curlewis said.