Blunder, as over 96 800 violent offenders released without DNA samples taken

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According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, between April 2021 and the end of June 2021, 5 760 people were killed in South Africa. In the same time frame, 10 006 people were raped.

In an answer to a parliamentary question from the DA, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, has revealed that since 1 January 2016, 96 875 convicted schedule 8 offenders’ DNA was not sampled and therefore not added to the National Forensic DNA Database of Convicted Offenders before they were paroled.

It is important to note that schedule 8 offences include murder, rape and sexual crime against children.

From the 96 875 convicted schedule 8 offenders that were paroled without their DNA being sampled, 16 316 of these perpetrators hail from KwaZulu-Natal. Moreover, 2 317 were paroled during the 2020/2021 financial year.

On Thursday, 2 September 2021, DA Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield states, “The reason behind this catastrophic miscarriage of justice is the failure by Minister of Police, Bheki Cele and his predecessor, to bring the DNA Amendment Bill to Parliament.”

Reflecting on the cause of the issue, Whitfield said, “The problem started when the transitional provision of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act No 37 of 2013, expired in 2017. 

This provision placed the responsibility of collecting the DNA samples of schedule 8 offenders in the hands of SAPS. Once the transitional provision ran its course, collecting DNA samples was no longer a compulsory requirement resulting in almost one hundred thousand violent criminals being let off the hook.”

The DNA Amendment Bill was drafted in 2016 specifically to compel the collection and logging of DNA samples before convicted criminals become eligible for parole, which would considerably impact the prosecution of serious crimes in South Africa.

Whitfield adds that the sole reason this Bill has not been passed into law is that the Ministers of Police, Bheki Cele, and Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, have a highly unconstitutional pipedream of a national DNA population database. 

“In the meantime, convicted murderers and rapists are free to continue their terror sprees safe in the knowledge that the DNA they might inadvertently leave at crime scenes would not be traced back to them or their last crimes,” he affirms. 

As Gender-Based Violence and Murder are immensely problematic in South Africa, Whitfield says, “The DA finds it appalling that these Ministers would continue to cut SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) off at the knees and so endanger all who live in South Africa. How many lives could have been saved had Ministers Cele and Motsoaledi looked past their hubris and allowed the DNA Amendment Bill to become a weapon in the fight against violent crime?”

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