DNA Bill could take 5 years to implement

2014-02-14 14:48

It may take up to five years before the newly passed DNA bill is in full swing, says Vanessa Lynch, one of the people behind the new forensic legislation.

“We are very pleased the bill has been passed, but there’s a lot of work ahead,” she said.

Lynch said one of the biggest hurdles would be educating members of the police about what was required of them when they arrive at a crime scene.

“More than 100 000 police officers may need training on how to do buccal swabs and how not to contaminate a crime scene,” said Lynch at a panel discussion about the bill in Joburg.

The bill was passed by President Jacob Zuma at the end of last month and will make it mandatory for police officers to take DNA samples at crime scenes for the use of investigating crimes.

Rape survivor Lindi Mdluli said she was delighted the bill had been passed. She was raped seven years ago but the perpetrator is still roaming the streets. After continuous and fruitless trips to the courts she decided to drop the case because she was tired of the back and forth.

“When you get raped, you shut down and you don’t want to continuously talk about the experience because it is traumatic. This new bill will give a voice to voiceless rape victims,” she said.

Mdluli said the bill would make the investigative process much easier and could reduce the reliance on he-said-she-said testimony, which is often involved when rape accusers seek justice.

The biggest delay in starting the process is from the Department of Public Works, which has delayed signing documents that will allow forensic scientists to modify laboratories.

“The Department of Public Works owns the buildings in which the forensic department operates. In order to modify the building they need permission from the department. The forensic team is ready to go and they could start tomorrow but they haven’t got the approval from the department. They are holding us down,” she said.

Lynch said the forensic team had been appealing to the department since the middle of last year but had received little feedback.

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