Minister Fritz to raise DNA backlog at Forensic Science Laboratory at MinMec
The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, will raise the backlog in processing of DNA at the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) at the next Minister and Member of Executive Councils Meeting (MinMec). Addressing the backlog will have a major impact on crime fighting, particularly Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) in the Western Cape because it impacts on the processing of DNA samples.
Minister Fritz said, “This follows the failure to address policing service delivery inefficiencies in the State of the Nation Address last night, where it was hoped that this matter would be addressed in particular.”
Minister Fritz has also previously written to Minister Cele regarding the backlog of processing DNA by the FSL and believes it now requires an urgent follow up.
Minister Fritz said, “The SAPS have an important role to play in the fight against GBVF. Yet all too often, my Ministry and Department are informed that SAPS are failing to address this. An effective police service is necessary to ensure that DNA is processed timeously, suspects who contravene protection orders are arrested and that domestic violence registers are properly maintained. It is further essential that victims of GBVF feel that they can trust the police service to handle their cases with compassion and sensitivity, and not be subjected to secondary victimisation.”
Minister Fritz added, "It is my understanding that the Standing Committee of Community Safety, in terms of section 206(9) of the Constitution, will invite the Acting Provincial Commissioner and Divisional Commissioner for Forensic Services to unpack the causes behind these delays and provide a report indicating its performance in terms of DNA analysis since the beginning of 2019 to date.”
In August 2020, the Department of Community received a report from the Western Cape Police Ombudsman’s (WCPO) office with regards to a complaint of poor investigation by a local Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS). The complainant had opened a rape case at the SAPS in question, which was investigated by the FCS unit. According to the complainant, the case docket was additionally struck off the court roll due to DNA results which were still outstanding.
The WCPO’s preliminary investigation found that although no inefficiencies could be detected with the criminal investigation conducted by the members of the FCS Unit, that the criminal case reported by the complainant was provisionally withdrawn by the Public Prosecutor in the Court on 11 February 2020. This was due to the forensic report which was outstanding on the scientific investigation conducted on the DNA samples by the FSL of SAPS in the Western Cape.
In line with WCPO’s recommendations, Minister Fritz wrote to the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sports on 5 October 2020. “On the same day, I referred the report to Minister Cele. It must be noted that Minister Cele failed to substantively respond. This clearly demonstrates how little concern he has for the issue of GBVF; and further his unwillingness to address service delivery complaints within SAPS.”
The President’s concluding remarks on GBVF were that, "Gender-based violence will only end when everyone takes responsibility for doing so in their homes, in their communities, in their workplaces, in their places of worship and in their schools."
Minister Fritz concluded, “While we all have a role to play in reporting, standing up to and assisting victims of GBVF; we will not win the war on GBVF without an effective police service which is both sensitive to the needs of victims and able to protect them.”