Today, the Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, welcomes the update issued by the South African Police Service on the DNA processing backlog.
According to the statement released today, progress in processing the backlog has been made after the system to track and trace forensic exhibits, the Forensic Exhibit Management System, went live on 6 April 2021, and is now up and running. The FEM System was developed in a partnership between the SAPS and the State Information Technology Agency.
Minister Fritz said, “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.”
According to the statement, “Nearly 25000 new exhibits have…been loaded into this system”. The statement also says that “the SAPS has finalised a two-year contract with a service provider to supply the much-needed [Quantification Kits]”. Quantification Kits, which are also known as ‘DNA consumables’, are used in the process of DNA testing at the National Forensic Science Laboratories.
The Quantification Kits however first have to undergo a process of “validation”, and this process is expected to be concluded in the next two months.
Minister Fritz: “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.”
Minister Fritz continued, “We remain 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.”
“I will continue engaging with the National Commissioner on this matter,” Fritz concluded. “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”.
Source: Government of South Africa