“We cannot understand why it is so difficult for the government to implement simple steps to make South Africa safer for all of us,” said Ian Cameron, director of community safety at Action Society. “Violent convicted, charged or arrested offenders can continue with their crimes – without fear of connecting them to previous crimes – as they are released without their DNA samples being taken.”
This comes after the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) adopted the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill – better known as the DNA or CO (convicted offenders) Bill – without any amendments in September 2022. The only step left was for President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign it into law, which he did in December. It was a seven-year process to get the Bill approved by the National Assembly. However, it is already February, and it is still not operational.
DNAforAfrica had been instrumental in pushing the Bill through Parliament. Its founder, Dr Vanessa Lynch, said that a DNA database supported by the government is one of the most powerful tools for identifying serial offenders. She told Action Society that passing the CO Bill will give survivors of sexual violence more confidence in the criminal justice system in reporting crimes.