“Minister Bheki Cele is going around creatively with the truth once again,” said Ian Cameron, director of community safety at Action Society. “The police is not progressing with eradicating the backlog of DNA tests, as he wants us to believe.”
According to the official police reports to the Parliamentary Committee for Police, the backlog stood at more than 150 000 in June and grew to more than 180 000 in July of this year. According to the SAPS’s latest crime statistics, five women are raped in South Africa every hour – 120 per day.
“If we work with an average of four pieces of evidence per case, that’s 720 000 tests in the backlog. Now add 14 200 pieces of evidence in rape cases per month – only rape cases – and you can see why the police are losing the battle to get justice for victims of gender-based violence,” said Cameron.
Cele said in March this year, the backlog will be caught up within six months. He also said they were looking at public-private partnerships with possible universities to help process DNA evidence. Yet, nothing has come of that.
“Suddenly, with the rape of eight women in Krugersdorp and the media’s eyes on him, Cele wants to fast-track DNA processing,” said Cameron. “What about other victims waiting for more than two years to have their DNA processed? Why are there no public-private partnerships running yet?”
The minister blamed the backlog on the supply chain management at forensic labs. Yet, in June, he answered to the same committee that “all critical contracts for the procurement of consumables, repair, maintenance and calibration of equipment were awarded and in place”. He also said, “there is no shortage of reagents and chemicals”.
“We have a crisis Mr Cele, and you are making false promises and lying. You are to blame,” said Cameron. “You do not realise just how many rape and assault cases are provisionally and finally permanently scrapped from the roll because of delayed DNA reports. You don’t know their names, hold their hands, and start investigating cases from scratch. We do.”
Action Society insists that President Ramaphosa take the first step in getting the SAPS into shape by firing Minister Cele. Action Society’s petition – formally handed to Parliament in July – stands at more than 110 000 supporters.
To support Action Society’s petition to sack Cele, visit this link.