Cele learnt 'by chance' the police has not processed DNA evidence in 2 months

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Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Police Minister Bheki Cele.
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  • Police Minister Bheki Cele only learnt last week that the police had not been processing any DNA evidence in the past two months.
  • This while the forensic case backlog continues to grow, standing at more than 172 000 cases last Tuesday.
  • Cele said supply chain management was the problem.

Police Minister Bheki Cele only learnt last week that the police's National Forensic Science Laboratories (NFSL) has not processed any DNA samples for the past two months.

Last week, the Portfolio Committee on Police heard from Major-General Edward Ngokha, head of the NFSL, that it had not done any processing during January and February.

This while the police's forensic case backlog continues to mount.

READ | Western Cape top cop facing misconduct probe over 'disrespectful' social media posts about Sitole

In November last year, Cele told the committee the backlog was 117 738 cases. At that meeting, the police also presented a plan to eradicate the backlog.

However at the end of December, the backlog was 142 504 cases, according to Mark Rogers of the National Forensics Oversight and Ethics Board (NFDD).

Last Tuesday, it stood at 172 787 cases, according to Ngokha.

Meeting

The committee was "horrified" - as committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson put it - and organised a follow-up meeting on Wednesday.

This meeting did little to allay the committee's concerns, in fact, quite the contrary.

Cele told the committee he visited Cape Town last week after two police officers were shot and killed. He said:

"Fortunately, our police did a very good job - arrested a person there. And that person was properly linked to one of the victims because we found a cellphone of one of our members in the hands of this criminal. But one other thing that we found, was a bloody T-shirt on this criminal."

In a discussion with the police's Western Cape management, they were asked to fast-track the processing of the DNA evidence for the case.

"For the first time, for the first time, I heard that in the whole Republic of South Africa, in the whole Republic of South Africa, there are no chemicals to deal with the DNA in South African police laboratories.

"No one has reported it before. One heard it by chance."

READ | All four of Eastern Cape SAPS' helicopters are out of order

Cele added "50% of our problems as police" were caused by supply chain management, and the DNA problem was indicative of that.

"And if they are not fixed - this supply chain management issues - we are not going to be able to deal with our primary work of combating, preventing, investigating and upholding the law."

In a recent answer to a written parliamentary question signed off by both Cele and national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole, "financial constraints" and the Covid-19 lockdown were provided as the reasons for the backlog.   

In November, Cele said it was because of "a lot of corruption".

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