Strides made in addressing DNA samples backlog: SAPS

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Police say they are making strides in addressing the backlog of DNA samples. 

Police management told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police last November that the backlog in the testing of specimens for DNA had accumulated to over 170 000 

This was due to the shortage of “DNA consumables” that are essential for DNA testing at the South African Police Service (SAPS) Forensic Science Laboratories.  

The SAPS says it has finalised a two-year contract with a service provider to supply the much-needed consumables.  

National Police Spokesperson Vish Naidoo says the SAPS and the State Information Technology Agency have developed the Forensic Exhibit Management System to speedily locate the source and storage of the forensic evidence 

“The FEM system went live on the 6th of April 2021 and approximately 10 million samples from the Forensic Laboratory Admin System have been loaded into the FEM system where samples can be tracked and traced at the click of a button. Nearly 25 000 new exhibits have also been loaded into this system. All hands are on deck at the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratories to urgently tackle the existing backlogs. The work force of the forensic analysts there has been adjusted to allow for overtime work,” says Naidoo.  

New digital tracing system  

Last week, Police Minister Bheki Cele said the State Information Technology Agency’s new digital system is able to trace seven to 8 000 samples a week, adding that the new system helps in bringing the perpetrators of crime to book. 

Cele also said heads will roll at the National Forensic Science Laboratory over the backlogs. 

His remarks came after families of rape survivors raised concern over the backlogs, saying the snail pace in the processing of DNA evidence samples is preventing justice from taking its course. 

Speaking on the effectiveness of the new system, Cele says a man linked to 60 rape cases was arrested just under two weeks ago:  

-Additional reporting by SABC News