Ramaphosa: DNA forensic testing backlog unacceptable, hampering GBV fight

The President admitted to gaps and lapses on the part of the police while answering questions virtually in the National Assembly Thursday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on 30 March 2021. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN– President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the backlog in DNA forensic testing was unacceptable.

He warned that if it was allowed to continue it would hobble efforts to deal with gender-based violence cases.

He admitted to gaps and lapses on the part of the police while answering questions virtually in the National Assembly on Thursday.

A frank admission by Cyril Ramaphosa: “I must admit that there’s not been very good focus and the minister (Bheki Cele) admits this and is now feverishly working to ensure there is greater focus.”

He said that the police now had an action plan to clear the backlog of thousands of DNA tests that could help bring justice in thousands of cases of crimes against women.

“The minister (Bheki Cele) himself, as well as the commissioner and the leadership of the police, are now much more aware that this is important work and it’s got to be done.”

Ramaphosa cited police DNA backlog figures that “as of the 25th of April more than 83,000 cases were in process and more than 77,000 were older than 35 days”.

“This is clearly unacceptable and if allowed to continue at this pace, will severely hamper the fight against GBV,” Ramaphosa said.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald suggested that the DNA backlog was more than 170,000.

“There were no consumables available for laboratories, which the honourable minister of police only realised in March this year. Secondly, the system of exhibit-tracking was stopped last year in June and there have been nine court cases, the last a constitutional court case, which the police have lost,” Groenwald said.

Ramaphosa said that the police plan to clear the backlog had clear timeframes and that a new track and trace system for DNA samples was started in April.

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