New DNA Act will help nail offenders

Arbovlei CPF members Agnesia Schmahl and Rynie Kearns in attendance with LifeLine Board member Sifiso Zulu

THE country’s new DNA Act, introduced earlier this year, will in future make a massive difference in apprehending criminals – especially serial offenders.

That was the encouraging message from Rhys McColl of the DNA Project, at an awareness workshop hosted by LifeLine Zululand and the Tears Foundation at the Umfolozi Casino Resort Dome on Tuesday evening.

‘Not only does the new Act create the National Forensic DNA Database, it legislates for the mandatory collection of DNA samples from all Schedule 8 (serious and violent) offenders prior to their release from prison.

‘This means the police can increase the number of profiles on its database which will increase the chances of finding a match when investigating a crime scene or suspect.

‘It will also link a suspect to all the crimes committed by that felon in other police precincts.

‘DNA can also be used to exonerate a suspect.

‘DNA is far more accurate and useful than fingerprints, and samples can be far more easily obtained,’ said McColl.

‘The new Act puts pressure on police to work quickly.

‘The SAPS have 30 days to send all the DNA samples from a scene to the laboratory and the lab itself has 30 days to respond; so it should not take longer than two months for the evidence to be available for court.’

Home Affairs

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a chemical in almost all the cells of the human body and trace amounts are left on whatever object is touched.

It is found in skin cells, blood, saliva, hair, semen, sweat and can be transferred to clothing, cigarette butts, bottles and almost any other item.

Each person’s DNA is unique, other than for identical twins.

McColl went on to explain procedures for people arriving at a crime scene, to avoid its contamination, and demonstrated ‘rape kits’ for gathering DNA.

While only 140 000 people are on the country’s DNA database at present, McColl believes in future everyone’s DNA will be recorded, much as Home Affairs registers fingerprint identification.

Keen to hear more about DNA testing are (front) Nikiwe Princess Majola, Patience Boneni Xaba, Thandha Sibiya, Ntombi Madlala (back) Jeanine Chetty, Zonke Ndlovu

Keen to hear more about DNA testing are (front) Nikiwe Princess Majola, Patience Boneni Xaba, Thandha Sibiya, Ntombi Madlala (back) Jeanine Chetty, Zonke Ndlovu

Dave Savides

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