DNA backlog leaves family of Bokgabo Poo 507 days without justice or answers – Action Society

“Today marks 507 days since Bokgabo Poo’s mutilated body was found scattered in two separate places in Boksburg, 507 days since her family and friends have been waiting desperately for answers, and 507 days with no convictions. This is an insulting injustice, all due to the ever growing DNA backlog that has left thousands of victims and their families waiting endlessly for justice,” said Kaylynn Palm, Head of Action Society’s Acton Centre in the Western Cape.

Bokgabo went missing on 10 October 2022, and parts of her mutilated body were found in two places the next day. A suspect – Ntokozo Zikhali – was arrested and charged in Boksburg on 14 October. At the time of Bokgabo’s murder, Zikhali was out on bail for raping a nine-year-old girl for which he was arrested on 7 November 2021.

One major concern around the DNA backlog issue that has recently surfaced, is the non-compliance with legislation requiring that buccal samples that must be taken from persons arrested and charged for schedule-8 offences. Out of the 362 686 schedule-8 offenders arrested in the 2022/23 financial year, only 296 574 buccal samples were extracted, translating to only 81%.

The reality is that these backlogs, coupled with a database system that is not kept up to date, means cases run cold, and criminals are let out on bail and target more victims. Bokgabo’s murder is a clear example of this, and hers is sadly not the first, and won’t be the last if this trend continues. Action Society demands that persons accused of schedule five offences, such as murder, attempted murder, indecent assault and rape, are prioritised, and the police databases kept up to date, lest it causes more victims to end up like her.

“More than 80 murders are recorded in South Africa every day, but only 14,5% of them are solved, due to the DNA backlog. It is unacceptable that victims and their families go years without so much as an answer from the police,” concluded Palm.

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