“It seems that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, told yet another lie when he promised the DNA backlog would be cleared by October this year,” said Ian Cameron, the director for community safety at Action Society. “There is no way the backlog will be down managed by that deadline.”
According to information from the South African Police Service through a PAIA application, Action Society learned that the national DNA backlog stood at 143 795 in July 2022. However, it took 15 months to reduce the backlog by 40% from 241 152 in April 2021 – around 6 500 per month.
In March this year, Cele said that “a lot has been done at both labs (Cape Town and Pretoria)…” and that “…we are working 16-hour shifts”. He then boldly stated that they were “…almost done…” with the outstanding backlog and that it would be resolved in six months, which is October 2022.
“It is impossible to clear the backlog of around 140 000 in a month’s time and then still process an influx of 18 000 entries per month,” said Cameron. “Yet, the minister decided not to appoint any private contractors to help clear the backlog evident from the answer we received, even though he previously said that they would call on universities and private laboratories to help out.”
The SAPS answer confirmed that 111 010 entries are between 121 and 140 days overdue, with an influx of around 900 registered daily on top of that.
“How can he sleep at night knowing that thousands of victims of gender-based violence and murder have still – after five months – not been able to move forward with their cases because he cannot manage the police service effectively?” asks Cameron. “While the minister is still in his job, we urge him to use the available resources to serve justice to criminals. Set up private/public partnerships to help where the police fail. It is time to put pride aside and either start doing your job effectively or step down.”
Anyone wishing to support Action Society’s petition – with more than 100 000 signatures – to get Cele removed as minister of police can do so by following this link.
See the complete PAIA response here.