Sep 19, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Rights of millions trampled, safety threatened as government drags feet over DNA bill

The rights of millions of South Africans have been threatened by the government’s failure to pass a four-year-old law that would have forced police to take DNA samples from violent criminals before they were paroled.

This is the view of activists and politicians after Justice and Security Minister Ronald Lamola’s admission to Parliament on Wednesday that 96,875 prisoners detained for List 8 crimes since 2016 have been released without DNA collection since 2016 .

Record 8 offenses in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, including violent crimes such as murder, rape, sexual assault, kidnapping, culpable homicide and robbery.

Release convicted offenders from prison, without first taking DNA samples and being included in the national database effectively gave them more rights than the rest of the population of South Africa, Vaness said a Lynch, Regional Director of DNA for Africa.

“We are violating people’s rights in favor of the convicted perpetrator population,” she said.

In addition to allowing investigators to use DNA from crime scenes To match known perpetrators, storing DNA profiles in a database also served as a deterrent, she added.

Lynch noted that the case of serial rapist Sikangele Mki, who via DNA was linked to a number of unsolved rapes in the Western Cape proved just how critical the database was.

After his arrest in 2016 for assault, Mki’s DNA was investigated, linking him to 30 rapes he committed between 2011 and Committed in Delft in 2015.

Instead of receiving a probable five-year suspended sentence for assault, Mki is now serving 15 life sentences plus 120 years in prison following his 2017 conviction.

“That really tells the story of the power of this [database],” agreed DA MP and Police Shadow Secretary Andrew Whitfield.

“He’ll never get out of jail.”

Mki was convicted before the expiry of a two-year transitional provision following the promulgation of the DNA Act in January 2015, in which it was mandatory for the police to take DNA samples from convicted criminals.

However, the amendment law, which was drafted in 2016, To fill the gap that would remain until the transitional period expires and force authorities to collect and record DNA samples from violent criminals before parole has been languishing on ministers’ desks for nearly four years.

In a statement to Parliament on Wednesday, Whitfield skinned Police Minister Bheki Cele and Home Secretary Aaron Motsoaledi for wanting to pass the Bill because they wanted to create a nationwide DNA database instead.

“This is completely dystopian and bizarre,” he said of the proposal. “It is unconstitutional in our view and completely unaffordable.”

The investigation in the nationwide database should also not prevent the bill from reaching parliament, he added.

Convicted murderers and rapists were able to “continue their terror streak” knowing that any DNA they might leave at crime scenes couldn’t be traced back to them or their previous crimes, he said.

“They might even be was not released until that DNA ran through the convicted criminal database and matches were found even from cold cases. “

Meanwhile, Section 36D of the law, which makes it mandatory for civil servants, was DNA -Take samples from individuals arrested, charged, or convicted of serious crimes, except when signing the law due to insufficiently trained police officers to take the samples, Lynch said.

The exception meant that police officers were free to choose at their own discretion whether to take a DNA sample from an arrested person.

The reason for The exception was no longer there, as there were now enough officials trained to take DNA samples.

“It would [now] not be at their discretion,” she said. “You would have to take a DNA sample from a perpetrator or suspect on List 8.”

Whitfield attributed the escalating violent crime rates of SA to the lack of consequences for criminals.

“People are no longer afraid of the system. The system is broken and [the criminals] know it. “

However, the pressure on the government to pass the law has increased in the last few weeks, and the matter has increased could end in court.

On August 23, lawyers for civil rights group Action Society wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking him to implement the critical section of the Criminal Procedure Act and ensure that the bill is submitted to parliament for consideration.

Action Society gave the President 30 days to comply.

“We trust that it will not be necessary to go to the courts on this matter,” wrote Daniël Eloff from the law firm.