DNA bill approved

2013-08-22 18:01

Cape Town - The so-called DNA bill is one step closer to being signed into law after the National Assembly passed it on Thursday afternoon.

There was a lengthy delay before the bill was finally approved as the House sought to achieve a quorum.

Even after the bells had been rung for five minutes to summon MPs to the chamber, only 193 MPs were present. The required quorum is 201 - 50% of 400 plus one.

House chair Ben Ngubane postponed the vote and the House continued with other business. A short while later, Ngubane announced that the table staff had done a further head count and there were now 213 MPs present. The bill was then approved with the support of all parties.

Earlier, debate on the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill was introduced by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who said it would act as a "silent witness in the fight against crime".

"The bill before this House amends the Criminal Procedures Act with the intention of enhancing the criminal justice system and allowing the taking of DNA samples and the establishment of a DNA database within SAPS," Mthethwa told MPs.

The bill sets out the circumstances under which DNA samples should be taken from persons charged with serious crimes and those convicted of serious offences. It provides for the voluntary giving of DNA samples to help police in missing persons cases, and to identify human remains.

Police committee chair Annelize van Wyk said the bill's passing during women's month was significant as it was expected to enhance the fight against crimes committed against women and children.

"What will happen once this bill becomes an act, in simple terms, is that at the crime scene the police will look for evidence, among the evidence would be DNA that is left behind," Van Wyk said.

"This will be known as crime scene samples and it will be loaded onto the database under the crime scene index."

Detectives would then be able to link criminals to crime scenes by taking DNA samples and checking them against the index. The DNA database can also be used to exonerate convicted offenders.

"If a person is serving a sentence and that person knows that they are innocent and that they can prove their innocence with DNA, the bill allows for it," Van Wyk said.

The Democratic Alliance supported the bill, but expressed reservations on its implementation.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said there was a lack of resources which led to serious backlogs at the country's forensic science laboratories.

"If we now factor in the planned passing of the DNA legislation today, which will see DNA samples taken from every correctional services inmate as well as every newly arrested offender in the country, the sad reality is that with this proof that backlogs are once again a reality there is a very real fear that a backlog of monumental proportions will develop," Kohler-Barnard said.

However, there was a crucial need for the bill, and this outweighed the party's concerns.

  • Squeegee Pilot - 2013-08-22 18:09

    Submit the ruling party to a test - we would solve 30% of all outstanding crimes... (I made up the 30% - if you were wondering)

      StaalBurger - 2013-08-22 18:21

      Agree, if they make it compulsory for all members of parliament cases will indeed be solved!

      kalabafazi - 2013-08-23 11:33

      Noted Squeegee Pilot. I also noticed that you were quite conservative in your estimation too.

  • George Bennie - 2013-08-22 18:10

    This is SO long overdue. Ironically SA has one of the best forensic department in the world. It's the sheer vine of crime that delays conviction because often we cannot link crimes.

  • Whatalotigot Smarties - 2013-08-22 18:26

    The bell rang for five minutes and still they were not able to drag the fat MP's away from the buffet table as they stuff their faces with 3 x five course meals a day paid with our tax money, maybe they should build a gym in Parliament to get the MP's fit. Then they do not have to ring the bell fir so long.

      NoeNoe - 2013-08-23 00:14

      Build a gym - You must be joking!! Anything more strenuous than wagging a tongue or nodding off would cause a dramatic increase in heart attacks. Come to think of it, that might be a good idea of yours. Sell it... I mean, build it!!

  • Tshezi Mkhabela - 2013-08-22 18:30

    only if the resources are available innocent will remain innocent.

  • Blackhole_Sun - 2013-08-22 18:35

    Great! Now we just need a full functioning DNA lab in every province, the current 2 labs will not be able to handle the workload!

  • Xenswim1 - 2013-08-22 18:49

    As long as they do not find an excuse to use DNA as part of our biometric process. Oh how the Biometric can be used for the government tax process and little protection for Joe citizen despite DNA. Hope this new application will allow the return of the death penalty.

  • Jay Jay - 2013-08-22 18:54

    A huge step forward in fighting crime.

  • Francis Muller - 2013-08-22 19:06

    Science Message From God Found Hidden Inside DNA Sequence Feb 01, 2013 Researchers at Harvard University announced today that they have found what appears to be a message from God written inside the human genome. In a little-explored section of non-coding DNA, a team of top geneticists discovered a 22-word snippet of ancient Aramaic in which God confirms his existence and his role in creating life on Earth. The stunning finding represents nearly irrefutable evidence of God's existence and his role in creating the process of evolution by natural selection. The message was discovered when researchers noticed strange mathematical patterns appearing within a certain section of the genome. For Heaven's Sake "We knew the patterns weren't naturally occurring," explains Charles Watson, the lead scientist on the project, "but we couldn't come up with any convincing explanation for them. "On a whim, we started cross referencing the patterns with language databases," he explains, "and we were shocked to find that the patterns corresponded to ancient Aramaic." Stunned by its discovery, the team contacted language experts familiar with Aramaic - the language Jesus Christ spoke in daily life. Entirely decoded, the message reads: "Hello my children. This is Yahweh, the one true Lord. You have found creation's secret. Now share it peacefully with the world." Yahweh is the biblical name for the Judeo-Christian god.

      Markus Ippy - 2013-08-22 21:11

      Seriously please stick to the article .... People like you just love to stir

  • Blackhole_Sun - 2013-08-22 19:50

    Isaac this is no thanks to the anc. Its the initiative of Vanessa lynch and the DNA Project that pushed this through.

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