Action Society is ecstatic that cabinet has finally approved the submission of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill to parliament for processing.
“This is great progress and it is a step in the right direction and a big win for victims of GBV. But approving such crucial legislation should not take this long and now we need to make sure that Parliament processes the Bill speedily,’ said Elanie van der Walt, spokesperson for Action Society.
The Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act 37 of 2013 (Forensic Procedures Act) forces convicted Schedule 8 offenders (this includes murderers and rapists) to submit a buccal DNA sample for the population of the National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD) of South Africa which will reinforce the fight against crime.
The Bill will now go back to the Portfolio Committee on Police. Action Society urges the committee to not delay the process. We had instructed our attorneys to start preparing a court case against the Presidency, the Commissioner of Police, National Minister of Police and the Commissioner of Correctional Services, for failure to urgently implement the Forensics Procedures Amendment Act. We sent a letter to the government in August demanding the urgent implementation of the Forensics Procedures Act and gave them 30 days (from 23 August 2021) to comply. News of Cabinet’s approval is a victory for Action Society, and we hope government is aware of the urgency of the implementation of the Act.
Recently, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, confirmed that 96 875 Schedule 8 offenders had been released on parole since 2016 without submitting a DNA sample. This amendment will ensure that offenders of heinous crimes are caught and prosecuted.
Despite the obvious fact that a NFDD is an essential and effective weapon in the fight against crime, this crucial element is being neglected by government. DNA samples enhance the ability of the SAPS to identify criminals and provide considerable assistance to prosecuting authorities. In 2019/2020 a total number of 3 193 murderers were convicted and of these, only 770 have submitted a buccal DNA sample.
The failure of government to apply and implement the law is allowing thousands of convicted murderers and rapists to walk free without being able to link them to past or future crimes.
“The amendment will put a stop to convicted criminals walking free without submitting a buccal DNA sample and remaining undetected to rape or murder again. DNA is the most effective tool to link perpetrators to cold cases and to facilitate future prosecutions for re-offenders. In a country where 3 335 women are raped and 1 667 people murdered every month, the implementation of this law should be done forthwith, without any further delay,” van der Walt concludes.