By Kaya 959 News
The announcement was made by national SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Vish Naidoo following a major backlog in DNA testing facilities.
“This new system replaced the previous system run by the service provider and has a track and trace functionality, which speedily locates the source and storage of forensic exhibits. The system went live on 6 April 2021,” he said.
Naidoo disputed claims that SAPS had lost around eight million pieces of evidence. He said the exhibits had been stored and could only be processed manually.
Community safety officials welcome update
Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, welcomed the update.
“I want to be unequivocal in commending SAPS for getting the FEM System up and running. We have been very vocal about the lack of information on actual progress on this matter, and so we are now very happy to receive news of these steps which have been taken,” Fritz said.
According to a statement by the SAPS, nearly 25 000 new exhibits have…been loaded into this system and a two-year contract with a service provider to supply the much-needed quantification kits or DNA consumables has been finalised.
“The news means that things are moving forward. It means practical steps have been taken towards diminishing and eradicating the backlog. At the same time, it is sobering that we first have to wait two months before a validation process of the Quantification Kits is concluded before any actual DNA exhibits are processed,” Fritz said.
DNA testing is powerful evidence
He said he remained of the view that decentralising the processing of DNA exhibits and devolving the function to SAPS management at a provincial level, and even to other service providers, would lead to an even more efficient and effective system.
“Even though it happened in Benoni, we welcome the news in the statement that a suspect was positively linked to 60 rape cases through DNA testing. This goes to show that DNA testing is a powerful tool in sharpening up the criminal justice system, and it must be used to far greater effect,” he said.
“I will continue engaging with the National Commissioner on this matter. While I do commend the work of the SAPS under the leadership of Commissioner Sithole, I want to say that we will only truly celebrate when we know that our systems are as efficient and effective as they possibly can be,” he said.
Nearly 200 000 cases not finalised
Last month, it was revealed that more than 172 000 cases had not been finalised as a result of the backlog.
According to the head of the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Major-General Edward Ngokha, for the months of January and February this year no DNA evidence had been processed. At the time, chairperson for the Portfolio on SAPS, Tina Joemat-Pettersson said they were confident that the matter would be resolved.
Last year, an additional R250m was allocated to SAPS to help the forensic services division deal with procurement issues it had been facing.
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