The national backlog in the forensic testing of DNA samples is allegedly part of the reason why 139 cases have been thrown out of court. These cases include assault, rape and domestic violence.
On May 14, Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that more than 208 000 DNA samples still need to be processed. This backlog has severely impacted investigations related to gender-based violence, rape and other serious cases.
According to EWN, Cele informed the National Assembly that the police were making every effort to clear the backlog. However, on the same day, the standing committee on community safety, heard that the department’s court watching brief unit visited 19 courts from October to December 2020, where they saw nearly 139 cases being dismissed.
The dismissals were due to dockets not being in court as well as incomplete investigations. According to IOL, the top three cases dismissed in court were the following; 42 cases of assault with grievous bodily harm, 18 cases of rape and nine cases of domestic violence.
“With rape most of the DNA reports were still outstanding and this is obviously linked to the backlog at the forensic laboratory and domestic violence also had dockets that were not at court or the complainant withdrew the matter as well,” stated the Head of the department Yashina Pillay.
To combat the backlog, Cele has stated that they have implemented a new track and trace system. He hopes that this will help the police forensic services function normally again within 18 months.