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Open Letter to Cele: The DNA Backlog is an Untenable Situation

Dear Minister Bheki Cele,

Your office has correctly remained vocal against the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in South Africa. We also note that the crime statistics of the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year show decreases in “total sexual offences such as rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual offences and contact sexual offences”.

However, Amnesty International South Africa is concerned that GBVF remains high in the country and that murder and attempted murder of women registered 53,2% and 31,4% increases, respectively. The existing DNA backlog at the Forensic Science Laboratories is denying victims of GBVF access to justice.

In March this year, you told the country that the DNA backlog would be cleared within six months. You said during a briefing with the media that: “We had given ourselves 18 months to address the backlog; the staff has given us six months, they anticipate the backlog to be resolved". Friday, 30 September marked the end of six months and there has been no word from your office in relation to clearing the backlog.

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