Action Society calls out Cele trying to deflect delay of DNA Act

“It is outrageous that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, now suddenly sees the urgency of the implementation of the DNA Bill when he was directly involved with its delay,” said Ian Cameron, director of community safety at Action Society. “To insinuate that he was always championing the speedy implementation of the Forensic Procedures Amendment Bill is a blatant lie.”

 

Cele told the National Council of Provinces’ Security and Justice Committee yesterday that the Bill will help solve many murder and GBV cases. However, he admitted that the DNA of the perpetrators in the gruesome Krugersdorp gang rape would have been on the National Forensic DNA database if only the Bill had been in place already.

 

It took seven years to get the Forensic Procedures Amendment Bill approved by the National Assembly (NA). Only after Action Society threatened legal action in August 2021 Cele finally introduced the Bill to the NA.

 

The president fixed 31 January 2015 as the date on which the Forensic Procedures Act came into operation. Section 36D(1) and section 7(7), however, provided loopholes for the mandatory taking of buccal samples (cheek swabs) from arrested, charged or convicted persons in respect of certain offences listed in Schedule 8. It was the minister of police who delayed the process by trying to add unnecessary steps to the amendment.

 

The Minister of Police introduced and referred the Bill to the National Assembly Committee on 20 December 2021, who unanimously adopted the Bill unamended in May 2022 and referred it to the National Council of Provinces’ Security and Justice Committee.

 

“The failure to apply the existing legislation, which requires establishing and adequately implementing a National Forensic DNA Database, constitutes a failure of the Presidency’s and the Police Ministry’s constitutional duties owed to the South African population,” said Cameron.

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