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Western Cape Lab Targeting to Eradicate DNA Backlog by 2023

Western Cape Lab Targeting to Eradicate DNA Backlog by 2023

The Western Cape Department of Community Safety, released a recent Court Watching Briefs report, which revealed that there are more than 200 cases of violent crimes, which have been struck off the court roll in the Western Cape due to incomplete investigations.

It has been found that some are caused by delays in processing DNA evidence at the provincial SAPS’ (South African Police Service) forensic science laboratory (FSL). These cases were struck off the roll between 1st July and 30th September 2022.

The report shows that, 30 percent of the cases were gender-based violence matters such as rape, sexual assault, attempted murder and other contact crimes that depend on the results from the lab.

It has been revealed that scientific analysts at the lab had shown steady progress in their quest to eradicate a DNA backlog that delayed solving serious crimes like sexual assault and murders. 

Now, the lab has decided to eradicate the backlog, in fact the reports have shown that on 24th August 2022, backlog of 25,290 samples was recorded out of which 10,031 DNA backlogs were slashed out leaving 15,259 by 23rd November 2022. 

The above statistics indicate that the FSL had worked through 73,899 samples out of 89,158 DNA backlogs since 1st October 2021.

Reagan Allen, the member of executive council (MEC) of South Africa, said that, “The continued manner in which the FSL is working through the backlog is encouraging. Eradicating this backlog is paramount, as these samples are vital in cases of sexual assault, murders and various other matters. The more the lab is able to address the backlog, the quicker perpetrators who are standing trial can be held accountable for their crimes”.

The Minister police also revealed that the country’s DNA backlog was currently in excess of 37,000 samples after it was reduced from 241,000 to 71,000 in October. 

He added that the expected submission for Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) isolation is informed by the preliminary outcome and the evidential value, case category which differs from case to case.

According to Allen, the steps taken by SAPS towards eliminating the backlog will be making it possible that the secondary trauma experienced by the victims, who might be waiting for an extended period for their matter to be finalised in the judicial process, will get reduced.

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