Eight years for a test at forensic lab – DA

2010-06-01 11:03

It is taking eight years to process toxicology samples at the

department of health’s forensic laboratory in Johannesburg, the DA has

said.

DA health spokesperson Mike Waters said the country’s three state

forensic chemistry laboratories had “all but collapsed”.

At Johannesburg there was a backlog of 5 231 toxicology samples,

which meant it was taking eight years to process a sample.

The toxicology backlog in Cape Town was 3 464 samples, with a

seven-year processing time.

For drunk driving cases, Johannesburg had a backlog of 12 750

samples and a three-year processing time, while Cape Town stood at 6 348 and 21

weeks.

Waters said problems at the laboratories, the third of which were

in Pretoria, started in 1998 when it was decided to move them from the police to

health.

“The function shift caused so much uncertainty that services had

already started deteriorating by the transfer date in 2006,” Waters said.

“The police declined to maintain the services in the years leading

up to the transfer and the health departments were too weak to look after them

following the transfer.”

He said the national health department did not regard the services

as a priority and as a result the laboratories were grossly underfunded and

staffed.

“How on earth could the department allow the situation to become so

desperate and still not take any decisive action?” he asked.

“Apart from the current backlog which is affecting many South

Africans and many court cases, how does the department envisage that blood

samples from foreign visitors during the football World Cup will be processed

before they go back home?”

An additional R6 million a year was needed to fill all the vacant

posts plus additional posts that had been requested.

 

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