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SAPS updates on progress made in DNA testing and tracking and tracing of Forensic Exhibits
2021/04/26

Media Statement
South African Police Service
Office of the National Commissioner

 

PRETORIA - The South African Police Service Management confirms that there is a light at end of the tunnel on the DNA testing backlog. The SAPS can report that great strides are being made to overcome the backlog in DNA testing while the system to track and trace forensic exhibits is now fully up and running.

This follows a reported "disappearance" of millions of forensic exhibits at the National Forensic DNA Database due to the Property Control and Exhibit Management (PCEM) system being shut down by the service provider in June 2020. In fact, these exhibits were stored in the Forensic Service Laboratory Administration System and could only be accessed manually.

Since then, the South African Police Service has worked together with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and developed the Forensic Exhibit Management (FEM) System. This new system, which also has a track and trace functionality, replaced the previous system run by the service provider. The FEM system can now 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.

The testing of specimens for DNA also reached a bottleneck which resulted in an accumulative backlog of over 170 000 samples. This emanated from the shortage of Quantification Kits or so called “DNA consumables” that are essential for DNA testing at the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratories.

In this regard, the SAPS has finalised a two-year contract with a service provider to supply the much-needed consumables.

However, before the Quantification Kits can be procured from this service provider, the validation of the kits is being done, it is a process that is absolutely necessary to ensure that consumables used for this DNA testing are indeed valid for this process. This process is expected to conclude in the next two months. In the meantime the SAPS has procured enough Quantification Kits on a quotation basis to last at least three months so that the backlog as well as the testing of new samples can continue allowing enough time for the validation process to be completed.

The SAPS management will like to assure the nation that while the backlog in the Forensic Laboratories is being dealt with the urgency it deserves, DNA samples required for court cases especially related to Gender Based Violence cases as well as DNA samples needed for identification of persons for burials are being prioritized.

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.

The prioritization of the DNA samples is already bearing fruits, as recently as Friday, 23 April 2021 a Benoni man was confirmed a serial rapist after being positively linked to 60 rape cases through DNA identification. This man was arrested earlier this month on a single rape charge and the evidence collected at the crime scene, matched evidence collected 59 other cases to which this man has been connected. This man is expected to appear in the Benoni Magistrates court again on the 29th of April 2021.

The Police Management is satisfied with the progress made since the introduction of the SITA developed Forensic Evidence Management (FEM) System and remains encouraged by the continuation of the DNA testing due to the availability of Quantification Kits. With all the new measures put in place the management of the police service believes a resolution in this matter is well within reach.

Ends

 

Enquiries:
Brigadier Vish Naidoo
082 567 4153

 

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