Vanessa is regarded as a key opinion leader in the field of Forensic DNA
policy and law, and has been lauded for her leadership to drive the adoption
of legislation to administer South Africa’s national DNA database, the first of
its kind on the African continent.
In September 2017 in South Africa, Sikhangele Mki was sentenced to 15 life
terms and an additional 120 years imprisonment. The Court referred to
Mki as “a monster lurking in the shadows – attacking, robbing and
raping girls, exploiting the vulnerability of his unsuspecting victims – whose crimes fell into the category of the most serious cases this court has ever dealt with”.
The breakthrough in the investigation happened when Mki was arrested and
convicted for an unrelated charge of common assault in 2014. Whilst serving time for this in
prison and in terms of the recently passed DNA Act in South Africa in 2015, police were
mandated to collect DNA samples from all convicted offenders retrospectively and run
the resultant forensic DNA profile through their national DNA database for a comparative
search. In this case, it contained the DNA profiles of an unknown male in 30 separate
rape cases and this is what ultimately linked Mki to the unsolved rapes, although the DNA
sample was collected for a less serious and unrelated crime.
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