Bheki Cele: All talk and no action in resolving the DNA backlog crisis.

Action Society is disappointed in minister Bheki Cele’s responses regarding the DNA backlog
crisis that was discussed during his budget speech in the National Council of Provinces on
Wednesday. Although Cele detailed the steps that the South African Police Services (SAPS)
will be taking to clear the massive backlog at the National Forensic Science Laboratories
(NFSL) his response is too little too late.

In the plenary debate on the DNA crisis held on May 11, Minister Cele confirmed that the
SAPS was already implementing overtime to clear up the DNA backlog. “Our goal is to have
40% of HR dedicated to addressing backlog and 60% of staff will handle new cases,” said Cele.
On Wednesday however, he noted that they are busy with union negotiations regarding the
introduction of a shift system. He did not comment on the current situation or if any progress
has been made since May, when the backlog was a staggering 208,000 cases.

Minister Cele also noted his concern about the negative impact that the DNA backlog has on
gender-based violence cases and cases involving crimes against women and children, an issue
that will undoubtedly further decrease the current conviction rate of 7.8%. His concern,
however, does not bring any relief to victims of violent crimes and families waiting for DNA
results so they can lay their loved ones to rest.

“It is apparent that the minister has no sense of urgency to resolve the on-going DNA backlog
crisis. He prefers to spend his time on drafting senseless bills, like the Firearms Control
Amendment Bill ̶ where he aims to disarm law abiding citizens ̶ instead of putting more
effort into resolving a crisis, that if not resolved urgently, will effectively allow perpetrators
of violent crimes to walk off scot-free due to the lack of forensic evidence,” comments Dr
Rineé Pretorius, spokesperson for Action Society.

Action Society has been advocating for the immediate dismissal of Bheki Cele with their
#celemustgo campaign. His apparent lack of interest in solving the DNA backlog is just one of
the many reasons why he should step down.

Cele has utterly failed to serve the public or to help protect South Africa’s most vulnerable.
Examples of this include:
• Plans to remove citizens’ rights to own a firearm for self-defence purposes.
• the shutdown of the DNA evidence exhibit (PCEM) system without a timely
contingency plan.
• The massive DNA backlog of over 200 000 due to PCEM system being shut down.
• no progress in the approval of the Convicted Offenders Amendment Bill.
• low conviction rates in GBV cases; and
• the shutdown of the Police firearm permit system (FPS).

“The crime statistics for the first quarter of 2021, also revealed an alarming 8.4% increase in
murder cases and reaffirms the fact that there is a major concern regarding the functionality
of the South African justice system, particularly the complete state of disarray in which the
SAPS finds itself under the leadership of Bheki Cele. In any other democracy, a responsible
officer of the state would do the honourable thing and hand in his resignation. since he is no.

We at Action Society say: “Enough. Enough Bheki Cele, it’s time to go,” concludes Pretorius.

ISSUED BY: Action Society
DATE: 11 June 2021
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
Dr. Rineé Pretorius
Spokesperson: Action Society,
Cell: 0835077782
OR
Daleen Gouws,
PR: Action Society,
Cell: 0812338351

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