President Cyril Ramaphosa says government has set in motion interventions to reduce the number of DNA cases at forensic laboratories, as part of efforts aimed at reducing the gender-based violence cases backlog.
GBV-related DNA cases backlog
High number of finalised case dockets
The President said this when he fielded oral questions in the National Assembly on Thursday. “A number of interventions have been implemented by the SAPS to address the DNA backlogs.”
“These include, amongst others, improving supply chain processes, the procurement of consumables at a cost of R4.2 million, by way of a deviation from National Treasury, for the prioritisation of cases identified by the National Prosecuting Authority, and the filling of vacant posts in Forensic Science Laboratories,” he said.
The President said this as the DNA case backlog is linked to a high number of finalised GBV-related case dockets.
Dockets outstanding for more than a year
During the course of the fourth quarter of the 2020/21 financial year, the South African Police Service finalised 3 534 dockets for crimes against women, which had been outstanding for more than a year.
This constitutes 42% of the total number of 8 289 dockets that had been outstanding for more than a year.
“While this is welcome progress, our ability to effectively investigate and prosecute gender-based violence is severely hampered by the backlog in DNA cases at forensic laboratories.
“According to the South African Police Service, 2 556 DNA cases related to gender-based violence were finalised between 18 February and 25 April this year. As at 25 April this year, there were more than 83 000 GBVF-related cases in process, and more than 77 000 cases were older than 35 calendar days”.
“This is clearly unacceptable and, if allowed to continue at this pace, will severely hamper the fight against gender-based violence.”
R250 million allocated to operational baseline budget
The President said as part of interventions to address the DNA case backlog, an additional R250 million was allocated to the operational baseline budget to address challenges in forensic laboratory services.
He said the SA Police Service has also initiated the bidding process to award all outstanding contracts for the consumables that are critical in addressing the DNA backlogs.
“In this regard, the SAPS developed a DNA Backlog Recovery Plan, which is a multidisciplinary intervention within and outside of the South Africa Police Service.
“This Action Plan, with clear timeframes, was presented to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee in March this year.”
President Ramaphosa said a new Forensic Exhibit Management system was implemented on 6 April 2021 to enable effective tracking and tracing of samples received at the different laboratories.
“Regular meetings are also being held between the SAPS, the Department of Justice and the National Prosecuting Authority to assist the NPA with the prosecution of these cases, and to fast-track DNA analysis reports of court cases that have been long outstanding.”