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Speaker notes by the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele at the occasion of the parliamentary debate on DNA hosted by the National Assembly

Parliament, Cape Town

Speaker/Chairperson of the National Assembly; Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers; Honourable Members of Parliament;

Receive my humble greetings this afternoon as we continue with our efforts of advancing the struggle for the emancipation of women and children of our beloved country.

In responding to this robust debate on such an emotional yet imperative subject honourable members; allow me to quote from the wise words of our former President Nelson Mandela, when he addressed the National Men’s March in Pretoria, on 22 November in 1997.

(Quote) "As long as we take the view that these are problems for women alone to solve, we cannot expect to reverse the high incidence of rape and child abuse. Domestic violence will not be eradicated. We will not defeat this scourge that affects each and every one of us, until we succeed in mobilising the whole of our society to fight it." (Unquote)

Certainly, social mobilisation is the only unifying approach to deal decisively with the scourge of GBV and Femicide.

While we acknowledge the critical role of the law enforcement agencies and government at large to lead this revolution; equally community mobilisation must be at the centre of all our efforts.


The backlog experienced at the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratories has given us sleepless nights.

Equally, it has been a nightmare for everyone relying on the services of the laboratories to find justice and closure.

But as the Police we didn’t just toss and turn in our beds from the sleepless nights.

We sprung into action, rolled up our sleeves and put our heads together.

We knew it was a race against time, to urgently find a way out of a nightmare, holding the Criminal Justice system at ransom.



As the Minister of Police and on behalf of the SAPS, I want to take this opportunity to apologise sincerely to all victims of crime, for the pain and anguish these delays have caused.

We owe it to all of you, to be transparent about how we got here and how we will improve this situation we are confronted with.



It all started when the Criminal Justice System (CJS) funding was suspended by the National Treasury due to changes in the strategic objectives of Treasury. This move meant there was an increased reliance on the Operational budget in order to continue with the business of policing.

During 2019/2020 financial year, the allocated operational budget was used and depleted by July 2019.

A request was then made for additional funding which was allocated in November 2019, no procurement could be initiated in December 2019. Added to that, the SAPS stopped all procurement from a supplier providing many forensic products to the SAPS.

Meanwhile, several contracts were coming to an end due to the non-availability of funding AND new contracts were not activated. To avoid fiscal dumping, no procurement could be facilitated at that stage. As a result, the core function of the Forensic Science Laboratories was at a standstill until August of the 2020/2021 financial year.

Moreover, from June 2020, there were no electronic track and trace functionality available due to the discontinuation of the system by the service provider. This meant the tracking and tracing of exhibits could only be done manually.

This manual work saw a rapid build-up, as forensic analysts were only processing a fraction of what could be processed with the discontinued system.

Furthermore, the testing of specimens for DNA also reached a bottleneck. This was a direct result of the shortage of Quantification Kits or so-called “DNA consumables”.

These kits are essential for DNA testing at the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratories. The reality is that this particular shortage was due to poor contract management in the SAPS.




Currently, the National backlog at our Forensic Science laboratories stands at 208 291 cases.

Over 60 thousand of these have been received by the laboratories but have not been analysed.

36 626 are DNA related and 82 000 of these are cases related to Gender-Based Violence and Femicide.

Out of the four SAPS Forensic Science Laboratories, the Gauteng province experienced the largest degree of DNA backlogs at 115% .

Followed by the Western Cape with 113% KZN and Eastern Cape and laboratories are at 81% and 44% respectively.



As the Honourable President has pronounced last week that the huge backlog is unacceptable!

We totally agree. The SAPS has been hard at work to implement an urgent turnaround plan for the sake of all victims of crime, especially women and children. About 42% of dockets for crimes committed against women and children that had been outstanding for over a year, have been finalised.



All cases relating to GBV and Femicide are being prioritized based on guidance from NPA.

77 485 such cases which are court ready but have outstanding results from our Forensic Science Laboratories are being processed.

Over 2500 of such cases have been finalized so far. Our goal is to bring normality back to the operations of the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratories within the next 18 months.




On our quest to expand the country’s forensic capacity, the building of the DNA Analysis Capability at the Eastern Cape Forensic Laboratory is underway. A contract has been awarded and the preferred bidder has commenced with onsite preparations.

The Eastern Cape and the KZN laboratories are currently providing limited services. We are certain that once fully operational, they will further assist towards the achievement of the 18 month stabilization target.




Honourable members,

Another dilemma before us was the inability to track and trace exhibits in our laboratories. This was due to the withdrawal of the system by service provide in June 2020.

The SAPS has worked together with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and developed a NEW system to track and trace forensic exhibits. The Forensic Exhibit Management (FEM) System is now fully operational.

The (FEM) system went live on the 6th of April and rolled out to the four SAPS Forensic laboratories. FEM has track and trace functionality AND has replaced the previous system.

Before the 6th of April, Forensic analysts could only track and trace forensic evidence manually.

They were only processing around a thousand specimen a week.

Within a month, a total of 63 576 cases were registered, tracked and traced electronically.

33 752 of the total of cases were registered in the Biology environment.



I am equally aware that this system has its teething problems.

The Civilian Secretariat of the Police Service is conducting oversight and fact-finding visits at all the SAPS laboratories.

Deputy Minister of the Police, Honourable member Cassel Mathale also visited the Western Cape laboratory, as part of our political oversight to provide leadership and support to the critical environments in the police.





There is a contract management system overhaul that is currently underway in the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratories. Currently, long-term contracts are under review and are being addressed. A total of 16 contracts have been awarded so far and each of them have an average of two to three years lifespan.

Seven more contracts are at the evaluation stages and will soon be finalized. The procurement of consumables on quotation basis, has been realized through a 4.2 million rand deviation, granted by the National Treasury. Hundreds (200) of such kits have been delivered and are already in use.



I would like to again assure the nation that this particular task is receiving urgent attention and utmost priority from all dedicated environments in addressing the backlog. An additional 250 million rand has been allocated towards responding to the challenges in the laboratories.




While COVID-19 protocols are compromising the availability of operational capacity in our laboratories, We are stepping up on human capacity building to meet the demands.

So far, 128 Scientists have been promoted internally and now working in the operational environment of the Forensic Science Laboratories.

A further 28 appointments are to be finalised and will provide support services.

We also recruiting outside the organisation for forensic analysts, who will work at a Warrant Officer level.

When this recruitment process is finalised, there will be an additional 150 analysts to add to the existing staff complement by July 2021.

The forensic analyst’s workforce has also been adjusted to allow for overtime. Continuous talks with Labour to allow for a shift system, to increase the working hours of staff, are underway.

Our goal is to have 40% of human resources dedicated for addressing the backlogs.

While 60% of the staff at our laboratories will handle incoming cases.





We MUST ensure that history never repeats itself. This is why we have put in place the following checks and balances.

·         Strengthening internal controls and oversight on the functioning of Forensic Science Laboratories.

·         Eliminate corrupt practices!


·         Implement an effective contract management plan.

·         We are also developing an early warning system for effective response to system anomalies.

·         Address teething problems experienced in the FEM system.

·         There will also be weekly technical and mechanical progress evaluations by SAPS and the DNA Board.

·         Lastly, there is also collaborative work between the SAPS, Department of Justice and the NPA.

Officials in those departments will meet monthly to fast track long outstanding court cases requiring DNA analysis reports.



We want to assure this august house and the rest of the nation that while we not out of the woods yet, we certainly are on the path moving towards improvement.

We are fully aware of the significant and severe impact that the backlog and delays have caused.  However we remain confident in our intervention measures that are aimed at regaining public confidence and equally restore organisational reputation and image.

In conclusion, the combined efforts aimed at normalising this current situation, are already yielding positive results.

On the 23rd 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 on a single rape charge and the evidence collected at the crime scene, matched evidence collected at over 60 other rape cases to which this man has been connected. The process to link him to more cases is ongoing.

This case is one of the GBV related cases that have been prioritized.

However, it is one of many cases that are now before the courts as the backlog is accordingly addressed and eventually cleared.

Chairperson, we are turning the tide in this environment- Zizojika Izinto.

I Thank you.