Police minister apologises as Forensic Lab backlog grows

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Police Minister Bheki Cele has apologised in the National Assembly for the backlog of more than 200 000 outstanding DNA results in the state Forensic Science Laboratory Services, reports IoL.

Cele made the apology during a debate sponsored by the Democratic Alliance on the crisis. The outstanding DNA results were standing at 172 787 as at February and dated back as far as April 2019. The backlog now stands at 208 291.

Cele said the backlog had given them sleepless nights. "It has been a nightmare for everyone relying on services of science laboratories to find justice and closure." He put the blame son the shortage of consumables and poor contract management in SAPS.

The minister outlined several measures put in place to address the backlog, including procuring and allocating more money for consumables, developing a track-and-trace system of specimens, hiring more personnel and making provision for overtime work. Cele also said they have strengthened internal controls to eliminate corruption. "We want to assure this august House and the rest of the nation that while we are not out of the woods yet, we are moving towards improvement. We remain confident that our interventions are aimed at regaining the public confidence and equally restore organisational reputation," he said.

DA MP Andrew Whitfield said the debate was not about politics, but it was about executive accountability.The IFP’s Zandile Majozi said the backlogs were a miscarriage of justice for over 150 000 people unable to have cases heard or concluded because of mismanagement and poor leadership.

 

Full report on the IoL site (Open access)


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