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Convicted Offenders should also be sampled

While the proclamation of legislation to enforce compulsory DNA sampling of alleged offenders takes effect at the end of this month, activists have said the same should apply to convicted criminals.

This comes after the implementation of Section 36D of the Criminal Law (Forensics Procedures Act), which will enforce compulsory DNA sampling of alleged offenders arrested on any schedule 8 offence, which was not mandatory in the past.

From February 1, a suspect arrested and charged with a schedule 8 offence – which includes rape and murder – will be required to provide a DNA sample which will be uploaded on to the National Forensics DNA Database.

Regional director of DNA for Africa, Vanessa Lynch, said the government needed to also pass legislation which made it mandatory to sample convicted offenders.

“All aspects of working towards a fully functional Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) are crucial. It shows commitment by the government to continue to fund and capacitate the FSL to ensure they can cope with capacity. They are also looking at private public partnerships to assist with capacity as well as building a new lab in the Eastern Cape.

The funding has been given to FSL to fulfill all outstanding contracts which impeded the labs’ ability to function. This caused the backlog to build up.

Now they are working through their backlog quite substantially and have pinned November 1, 2022, as the date for zero backlog. Again, all positive moves by the government to address this issue. We must continue to mount pressure on the government to stick to this commitment,” said Lynch.

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