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By News24 Wire

Wire Service

GBV: DNA backlog of more than 28,000 samples at police forensic laboratories

Last year, many police stations were without rape evidence collection kits.

The backlog for DNA samples for gender-based violence cases at forensic laboratories was 28,465, and the Covid-19 pandemic was to blame.

This was revealed in a presentation of the police to the portfolio committee on police on Wednesday.

After the public outcry about gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) about a year ago, one of the interventions police said it would implement, was the reduction of the backlog of all DNA samples related to GBVF cases at forensic laboratories.

The target was to reduce the GBVF-related forensic cases backlog to 5 000 by 31 March 2020.

Between 1 October 2019 and 30 June 2020, 23 750 GBV-related samples were addressed by the forensic laboratories. However, the backlog currently stood at 28 465.

Also read: Calls to hold police accountable for lack of sexual assault kits

The reasons for this, or the “challenges” as the presentation put it, were down the following:

– Delay in the allocation of funding, affecting the procurement of consumables;

– Rotation of members in forensic laboratories, due to Covid-19 restrictions;

– Self-isolation and quarantine, due to positive Covid-19 cases;and

– Closing of laboratories for de-contamination, due to Covid-19.

Last year, many police stations were without rape evidence collection kits.

One of the police’s intended interventions was the procurement of evidence collection kits.

The police had ordered 98 491 adult evidence collection kits at a value of R17 941 120.56. So far, 54 470 kits were delivered.

Of the 67 997 paediatric evidence collection kits ordered at R13 113 901.42, 49 400 had been delivered.

Of the 645 959 buccal swabs ordered at R162 684 774.15, 409 548 had been delivered.

DA MP Andrew Whitfield highlighted the importance of DNA in GBVF cases and asked what the crisis with the forensic laboratories was. Like he often did in August, September and October 2019, Whitfield asked if all police stations had rape evidence collection kits.

“We do not have a shortage and we do not have a crisis,” national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole said.

He said their current stock levels for evidence kits were sufficient and that they had a monitoring system in place.

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Gender-based Violence (GBV)

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