Cabinet is expected to adopt the long awaited DNA Bill in the next two weeks, after which it will be put up for public comment.
As a result, non-governmental organisation lobbying for better forensic procedures at crime scenes, the DNA Project, says the Bill will allow for the creation of a national DNA database.
DNA Project Director Vanessa Lynch stresses that a DNA database has been proven throughout the world to identify serial offenders.
She adds: “The sooner the Bill is passed, the sooner we are able to take profiles from all arrestees and link them to crimes, link otherwise unrelated cases and identify serial offenders so that when we are able to link them, we can prosecute them for all crimes and take them off the streets. In the current environment, it's an absolute priority.”
Lynch says the biggest challenge, as highlighted by recent high-profile cases, is that crime scenes are not being properly sealed. She says workshops to be conducted “are geared towards first-on-crime responders, whether they are paramedics, CPF members or security guards, to illustrate the value of DNA evidence and therefore an understanding of why it is important to cordon-off and protect the crime scene at the earliest.
we are providing the investigating officers an opportunity to in fact collect evidence by the time they get to the crime scene
She says by doing this, “we are providing the investigating officers an opportunity to in fact collect evidence by the time they get to the crime scene.”
DNA is unique to every person and therefore crucial in linking alleged rapists and murderers to a crime scene. But, South Africa's DNA Bill has suffered several red tape delays, much to the dismay of the DNA Project. Lynch says changes to the Bill and the creation of a national DNA database are vital in capturing criminals, especially repeat offenders.
Meanwhile, as part of Newsbreak's commitment to building a safer, rape-free environment, the mobile news service has partnered with rape survivor and activist Jessica Foord for her anti-rape pledge campaign. The pledges, aimed at men, can be found at the SABC foyer. Newsbreak calls on people to sign the pledge.