A deal between South Africa and the FBI in the US for the use of its high tech DNA system Codis is in the final stages of being signed, police have confirmed.
This will be the final step in adopting the Combined DNA Index System, rated as one of the best and fastest DNA processing systems in the world.
The letter of agreement would see the FBI supply the internationally used system, along with maintenance and all upgrades, at no cost to SA.
Already used by 58 other countries and more than 90 international law enforcement agencies and forensic science laboratories, it is endorsed by International Chiefs of Police.
Police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe told the Sunday Times Daily: “The agreement between the FBI and SAPS to acquire Codis is in the final stages.”
The system has the algorithm embedded and is able to perform the familial searching required for different forensic DNA profiles on the database. It is foreseen that the current DNA tracing system will work with Codis, improving its functionality, police said.
Gareth Newham, head of the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, said procurement was a fundamental problem for SAPS.
“It’s shocking that the offer of a free service of international standards cannot be expedited,” Newham said, adding that a good system with technical capabilities was key to fighting gender-based violence.
“It’s obvious that in cases, particularly rape, where there is DNA, that profiling is crucial. It is scientific evidence that can place a suspect at the scene, that can be used to charge and eventually convict a criminal and can even do away with the need for testimony from a victim who is likely to be traumatised.”
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