DNA Test That Distinguishes Identical Twins May Be Used in Court for First Time

December 16th, 2014

In 2004, two young women were abducted at gunpoint while walking home near Boston [United States] at night. The crimes happened eight days apart, but the pattern was the same: The women were shoved into a car by two men, pistol-whipped, driven to a different location, and raped. While collecting her clothes, the second victim managed to grab the condom one of the men had worn; she hid it in her pocket, and turned it in as evidence.

One of the two men involved pleaded guilty to the attacks in 2012. The other remained at large. Police had a suspect, but they couldn’t pin the crime on him due to a twist of genetic fate: He had an identical twin brother, and DNA from the condom matched both siblings. But now, a decade after the assaults, scientists have developed a genetic test that can distinguish between identical twins, and it may be used in court for the first time in this case.

The second suspect is 33-year-old Dwayne McNair. In September, McNair was arraigned on eight counts of aggravated rape and two counts of armed robbery, stemming from the two sexual assaults.

Traditional forensic methods can’t differentiate between DNA belonging to identical twins

He’s been a suspect in the crimes since 2007. According to court documents, a standard genetic test linked him to semen collected from the second attack back in 2008. That would ordinarily be enough to justify charges, but Dwayne wasn’t the only person whose DNA matched that semen. His twin, Dwight, was also a match. Traditional forensic methods can’t differentiate between DNA belonging to identical twins, and without a clear way to establish whether Dwayne or Dwight had left the semen at the scene, police had no probable cause to make an arrest in 2008.

But in 2012, the other man involved in the assaults told investigators that Dwayne had been his partner in the crimes. And earlier this year, prosecutors learned of a new forensic genetics test claiming to differentiate between biological samples belonging to identical twins. According to the Suffolk County District Attorney the test points to Dwayne, not Dwight, as the perpetrator of the 2004 assaults.

Normally, forensic tests work by extracting and amplifying regions of DNA collected from a crime scene. Then, investigators look for a match between the evidence and a suspect’s genetic sequence. Ordinarily, this kind of testing is sufficient: Most humans vary from one another enough for investigators to easily identify whether a suspect left blood, skin, hair, semen, or something else at a crime scene.

This is not true with identical twins. Grown from the same, single fertilized egg, monozygotic twins have nearly identical genomes. So, for decades, twins committing crimes had a relatively easy way to establish doubt—based on DNA evidence alone, their identical sibling would be equally as likely to have deposited whatever genetic material might have been left at a crime scene.

Maybe not anymore.

Using what’s known as ultra-deep, next-generation sequencing, a team in Germany has developed a test that claims to reliably identify which twin a biological sample belongs to. The test works by taking a close look at the genetic letters (called base pairs) comprising the 3 billion-base-pair human genome. Because mutations randomly occur during development, even genetically “identical” twins will vary at a handful of locations, says Burkhard Rolf, a forensic scientist at Eurofins Scientific, the company that developed the test.

The sequence mutations are random, so it’s incredibly unlikely they’d be the same in both twins—and it’s those discrepancies that can be used to pin a crime on a twin.

In a proof-of-principle study, Rolf and his colleagues analyzed sequences from a pair of twins and one of their kids. Scientists could positively identify which twin was the child’s father, based on five single base pair differences present in the father and son, but not in the uncle. They published the work earlier this year in Forensic Science International: Genetics; it’s this paper that caught the Suffolk District Attorney’s attention.

Results from Eurofins, showing one of the mutations

The office sent evidence to Eurofins for analysis. After the results came back, the McNair was indicted and arraigned for the crimes in September.

“At arraignment, the assigned prosecutor cited the Eurofins test results and said Dwayne McNair was ‘two billion times more likely’ than his twin to have been the source of the crime scene DNA,” says Suffolk DA spokesperson Jake Wark.

Now, the question is: Will the genetic test be admissible in court? It would be the first time it’s been used in the United States. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 12, 2015, after which a judge will decide whether evidence from the test is admissible.

Some experts seem to think it will hold up.

“It is scientifically sound and reliable, has a high probability of success, is based on standard, generally accepted forensic DNA sequencing technology, and has an infinitesimally low risk of error if proper laboratory practices are followed,” said Bruce Budowle, in an affidavit to the court. Budowle, who is now at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, once led the FBI’s DNA typing laboratory.

Yet some scientists are a bit wary. “I think it’s an interesting idea,” says computational biologist Yaniv Erlich of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The work published by the Eurofins team is accurate, he says, but is only based on one pair of twins. In an ideal world, Erlich would test the method using dozens of twin pairs, while simulating the small amounts of DNA that might be found at crime scenes.

He’s also concerned about the test’s applicability to different tissue types, and blood in particular (which is not an issue in the McNair case). In 2011, Erlich took a close look at the blood of identical twins who shared a placenta during development; early on, these twins are also sharing blood – even as adults, each twin has blood cells with DNA from the other twin.

“Think about one twin being Coca-Cola, the other twin is Sprite,” Erlich said. Their blood will be a mix of Coke and Sprite. “It’s not 50-50,” he said, “but it could be 20-80.”

In other words, while the Eurofins method might not work as well with blood samples left at crime scenes. But when it comes to saliva, skin, or semen, it could mean that identical twins are about to lose their genetic get-out-of-jail-free card.

SOURCE: This article was first published by Wired on 4 December 2014 and written by Nadia Drake – http://www.wired.com/2014/12/genetic-test-distinguishes-identical-twins-may-used-court-first-time/

Operation: SC@T!

December 8th, 2014

SC@T means “Securing a Crime scene @ Traffic incidents”.

On June 2nd, the DNA Project launched the first of several sessions at the Gene Louw Traffic Training College in Brackenfell, Cape Town. Operation SC@T had been specially designed to combine Crime Scene Awareness concepts and actions with the activities of Traffic Officers.

Increasingly, traffic incident scenes (TIS) are found to have an underlying criminal basis – these include crimes such as motor vehicle theft (MVT), hijacking, sexual assault and human trafficking, among others.

SC@T workshop in action with Dr Rebello.

One hundred and forty two (142) experienced and trainee officers who work in the Cape Town area attended the interactive sessions.

Officers were told that it is virtually impossible to not leave evidence at a crime scene. Often the evidence is in a biological form and therefore not “obvious”.

Examples of evidence items include clothing, cigarette ends, chewing gums, empty bottles and papers found in the vehicle.  These common items contain DNA from skin cells, blood, hair and saliva cells left there by the victim and perpetrator(s).

The take-home message for the officers was clear:  DNA CSI

Traffic officers testing their knowledge in an interactive Q&A session.

DDo not touch!

NNote and Record

AAssist others

C Careful! Contamination!

S SC@T – secure the crime scene

IInsist no-one interferes

In recognition of “SECURING the crime scene”, there were discussions on the practical aspects of doing this.  Following an assessment at the end of each session, the Officers were each given a “goody-bag” containing a certificate, a lanyard and glossy information booklet.

Dr Renate Rebello - Western Cape Trainer

NOTE: If you wish would like to book one of our new SC@T workshops for your Traffic Department or College, please contact our National Co-ordinator Maya Moodley at info@dnaproject.co.za.

Dr Hancock & DNA Project featured in PUB 10 year celebratory book

December 5th, 2014

Dr Carolyn Hancock and Prof Valerie Corfield at the PUB book launch.

The Public Understanding of Biotechnology (PUB), an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), celebrated a decade of existence in 2013 – an important milestone for the first communication programme on biotechnology in the country.

As part of its celebrations, PUB called for nominations to recognise contributions to the South African biotechnology sector by individuals for publication in a 10 year celebratory book highlighting their activities, institutions and contributions to the Biotechnology sector.

The book was officially launched by PUB at the Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg on the 25th of November 2014.

DNA Project director Dr Carolyn Hancock was amongst those recognised and profiled for her work under the ‘Biotechnology Communication’ category.

Additionally, Prof Valerie Corfield, one of our Western Cape DNA Awareness trainers, was also recognised for her contribution to biotechnology, though not specifically through the DNA Project.

Congratulations to Carolyn and Valerie and all the successful nominees who were profiled for their amazing contributions to biotechnology =)

Young Science Communicator’s Competition

November 23rd, 2014

Click here for inspiration

The Young Science Communicator’s Competition (YSCC) specifically challenges young scientists and researchers between the ages of 18 and 35 to communicate their world to a larger audience beyond their scientific community. Scientists are by nature passionate people. This can be reflected in the way stories are told and communicated. You, the scientist, can engage and excite your community about your science. You can connect and show your science is relevant to people in their everyday lives.

SAASTA recognise that different media can be used to convey messages about science. This year’s competition awards four categories:

NEWSPAPER/MAGAZINE ARTICLE

As a traditional mode of communication, print media can reach a wide readership and interest the public in science and science-related issues.

RADIO SCRIPT

Radio has far-reaching potential into areas where other forms of communication may be limited, such as in rural communities. Successful radio communication conjures up the “theatre of the mind”.

NEW MEDIA: VIRAL VIDEO

The viral nature of popular and entertaining videos that are spread by social media and e-mail makes them a highly effective method of reaching many people in a short period of time.

OPEN CATEGORY

Other effective forms of communication include drama, song, poetry, cartoons and more.

*Please see the competition rules for more information relating to the submission of entries for each category.

CLOSING DATE: 5 January 2015

Click here for more information.

SAPS Forensic Services: Available Posts – November 2014

November 16th, 2014

New posts within the South African Police Service (SAPS) Forensic Services Division, under the SAPS Act (employment as a police official), have been added to their website and are currently being advertised for November 2014 – http://www.saps.gov.za/careers/careers.php.

Please Note: Police officials are employed in terms of the South African Police Service Act, 1995 (Act No 68 of 1995).

CLOSING DATE for all applications: 21 November 2014

POLICE ACT POSTS

Click here to read the application process in terms of the SAPS Act.

Please download the full advertisement for all the new SAPS Act posts, including full requirements, core responsibilities, salary level and how to apply (PDF).

Download the official application form from the SAPS website.

The following posts are available:

1. Post: Personnel Practitioner (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Employee Health and Wellness
Section: Nodal Support Centre
Component: Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management (1 Post) (Ref FS 126/2014)
Location of the post: Pretoria: Gauteng

2. Post: Provisioning Administration Officer (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Supply Chain Management: Demand and Acquisition
Section: Nodal Support Centre
Location of the post:

  • Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 127/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: King Williams Town: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 128/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Bloemfontein: Free State (1 Post) (Ref FS 129/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Durban: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 130/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Potchefstroom: North West (1 Post) (Ref FS 131/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Kimberley: Northern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 132/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Cape Town: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 133/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Polokwane: Limpopo (1 Post) (Ref FS 134/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Amazimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 135/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Plattekloof: Western Cape: (1 Post) (Ref FS 136/2014)

3. Post: Provisioning Administration Officer (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Supply Chain Management: Vehicle Fleet Management
Section: Nodal Support Centre
Location of the post:

  • Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management National Office: Pretoria (2 Posts)(Ref FS 137/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Bloemfontein: Free State (1 Post) (Ref FS 138/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Johannesburg: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 139/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Polokwane: Limpopo (1 Post) (Ref FS 140/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Cape Town: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 141/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 142/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 143/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 144/2014)

4. Post: Provisioning Administration Officer (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Supply Chain Management: Moveable Government Property
Section: Nodal Support Centre
Location of the post:

  • Provincial CR & CSM: Cape Town: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 145/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: National Office Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 146/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 147/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 148/2014)

5. Post: Provisioning Administration Officer (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Supply Chain Management: Facility Management
Section: Nodal Support Centre: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post:

  • Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 149/2014)
  • Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 150/2014)

6. Post: State Accountant (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Finance and Administration Services
Section: Nodal Support Centre
Location of the post:

  • Provincial CR & CSM: Cape Town: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 151/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Bloemfontein: Free State (1 Post) (Ref FS 152/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Durban: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 153/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Amazimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post)(Ref FS 154/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 155/2014)

7. Post: State Accountant (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Finance and Administration Services
Section: Nodal Support Centre
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 156/2014)

8. Post: State Accountant (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Finance and Administration Services (Bookkeeping)
Section: Nodal Support Centre
Component: Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management
Location of the post: National Office: Pretoria (1 Post) (Ref FS 157/2014)

9. Post: Personnel Practitioner (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Human Resource Management
Section: Nodal Support Centre
Location of the post:

  • Provincial CR & CSM: Bloemfontein: Free State (1 Post) (Ref FS 158/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Durban: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 159/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Middelburg: Mpumalanga (1 Post) (Ref FS 160/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: King Williamstown: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 161/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 162/2014)
  • Forensic Science Laboratory: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 163/2014)

10. Post: Personnel Practitioner (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Employee Relations
Section: Nodal Support Centre
Component: Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:

  • Provincial CR & CSM: Polokwane: Limpopo (1 Post) (Ref FS 164/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Johannesburg: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 165/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Cape Town: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 166/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Middelburg: Mpumalanga (1 Post) (Ref FS 167/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Durban: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 168/2014)

11. Post: Warrant Officer
Section: Record Tracing: Local Criminal Record Centre:
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:

  • Protea Glen: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 169/2014)
  • Springs: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 170/2014)
  • Vereeniging: Gauteng: (1 Post) (Ref FS 171/2014)
  • Johannesburg: Gauteng: (1 Post) (Ref FS 172/2014)
  • Krugersdorp: Gauteng: (1 Post) (Ref FS 173/2014)
  • Ga-Rankuwa: Gauteng: (1 Post) (Ref FS 174/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Gauteng: (1 Post) (Ref FS 175/2014)

12. Post: Warrant Officer
Section: Adjudication: Local Criminal Record Centre:
Component: Criminal Record & Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:

  • Kempton Park: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 176/2014)
  • Lyttelton: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 177/2014)
  • Germiston: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 178/2014)
  • Pretoria North: Gauteng (1Post) (Ref FS 179/2014)
  • Sandton: Gauteng (1Post) (Ref FS 180/2014)
  • Protea-Glen: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 181/2014)
  • Springs: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 182/2014)
  • Vereeniging: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 183/2014)
  • Johannesburg: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 184/2014)
  • Krugersdorp: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 185/2014)
  • Ga-Rankuwa: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 186/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 187/2014)

13. Post: Warrant Officer
Section: Crime Scene Investigation
Component: Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:

  • Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 188/2014)
  • Mount Road: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 189/2014)
  • Provincial Task Team: Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 190/2014)
  • Vryburg: North West (1 Post) (Ref FS 191/2014)
  • Brits: North West (1 Post) (Ref FS 192/2014)
  • Potchefstroom: North West (1 Post) (Ref FS 193/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Kimberley: Northern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 194/2014)
  • Kimberley (Hartswater LCRC Service Point): Northern Cape (1Post) (Ref FS 195/2014)
  • Upington (Kakamas LCRC Service Point): Northern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 196/2014)
  • George: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 197/2014)
  • Mitchells Plain: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 198/2014)
  • Bellville: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 199/2014)
  • Cape Town: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 200/2014)
  • Lebowakgomo (Burgersfort LCRC Service Point): Limpopo (2 Posts) (Ref FS 201/2014)
  • Musina (Tshamutumbu LCRC Service Point): Limpopo (1 Post) (Ref FS 202/2014)
  • Acornhoek: Mpumalanga (1 Post) (Ref FS 203/2014)
  • Nelspruit: Mpumalanga (1 Post) (Ref FS 204/2014)
  • Provincial CR & CSM: Durban: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 205/2014)

14. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Section: Crime Scene Laboratories
Component: Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management
Location of the post:

  • Bloemfontein: Free State (1 Post) (Ref FS 206/2014)
  • Mtubatuba: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 207/2014)
  • Middelburg: Eastern Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 208/2014)
  • Witbank: Mpumalanga (1 Post) (Ref FS 209/2014)

15. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Forensic Anthropology
Section: Victim Identification Centre
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Pretoria: Gauteng (1 Post) (Ref FS 210/2014)

16. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub-Section: Handwriting Analysis
Section: Questioned Documents
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal (1 Post) (Ref FS 211/2014)

17. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Image Analysis
Section: Scientific Analysis
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 212/2014)

18. Post: Forensic Analyst (Warrant Officer)
Sub Section: Mechanical Engineering
Section: Ballistics
Component: Forensic Science Laboratory
Location of the post: Plattekloof: Western Cape (1 Post) (Ref FS 213/2014)

19. Post: Warrant Officer (Forensic Analyst)
Component: Quality Management
Section: Quality Assurance
Sub-Section/ Location of the post:

  • Chemistry: Amanzimtoti: Kwazulu-Natal [1 post] (Ref FS 214/2014)
  • Victim Identification Centre: Pretoria: Gauteng [1 post] (Ref FS 215/2014)
  • Scientific Analysis: Plattekloof: Western Cape [1 post] (Ref FS 216/2014)
  • Scientific Analysis: Pretoria: Gauteng [1 post] (Ref FS 217/2014)
  • Questioned Documents: Amanzimtoti: KwaZulu-Natal [1 post] (Ref FS 218/2014)
  • Questioned Documents: Pretoria: Gauteng [1 post] (Ref FS 219/2014)

20. Post: Warrant Officer (Forensic Analyst)
Component: Quality Management
Section: Technical Management: Forensic Science Laboratory
Sub-Section:

  • Biology: Pretoria: Gauteng [1 post] (Ref FS 220/2014)
  • Regional Laboratory: Plattekloof: Western Cape [1 post] (Ref FS 221/2014)
  • Chemistry: Plattekloof: Western Cape [1 post] (Ref FS 222/2014)

21. Post: Warrant Officer (Forensic Analyst)
Component: Quality Management
Section: Regional Quality Management: Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management: LCRC: Quality Control
Location of Post:

  • Cape Town: Western Cape [1 post] (Ref FS 223/2014)
  • King Williams Town: Eastern Cape [1 post] (Ref FS 224/2014)
  • Durban: Kwazulu-Natal [1 post] (Ref FS 225/2014)
  • Kimberley: Northern Cape [1 post] (Ref FS 226/2014)
  • Potchefstroom: North West [1 post] (Ref FS 227/2014)
  • Middelburg: Mpumalanga [1 post] (Ref FS 228/2014)
  • Polokwane: Limpopo [1 post] (Ref FS 229/2014)
  • Bloemfontein: Free State [1 post] (Ref FS 230/2014)
  • Johannesburg: Gauteng [1 post] (Ref FS 231/2014)

22. Post: Warrant Officer (Forensic Analyst)
Component: Quality Management
Section: Regional Quality Management: Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management: LCRC: Quality Assurance
Location of Post:

  • Cape Town: Western Cape [1 post] (Ref FS 232/2014)
  • King Williams Town: Eastern Cape [1 post] (Ref FS 233/2014)
  • Durban: Kwazulu-Natal [1 post] (Ref FS 234/2014)
  • Kimberley: Northern Cape [1 post] (Ref FS 235/2014)
  • Potchefstroom: North West [1 post] (Ref FS 236/2014)
  • Middelburg: Mpumalanga [1 post] (Ref FS 237/2014)
  • Polokwane: Limpopo [1 post] (Ref FS 238/2014)
  • Bloemfontein: Free State [1 post] (Ref FS 239/2014)
  • Johannesburg: Gauteng [1 post] (Ref FS 240/2014)

GENERAL:

  • Only the official application form (available on the SAPS website and at SAPS recruitment offices) will be accepted. The Z83 previously utilized will no longer be accepted. All instructions on the application form must be adhered to and previous criminal convictions must be declared. Failure to do so may result in the rejection of the application.
  • The post particulars and reference number of the post must be correctly specified on the application form. A separate application form must be completed for each post.
  • Persons who retired from the Public Service by taking a severance package, early retirement or for medical reasons, as well as persons with previous convictions, are excluded.
  • A comprehensive Curriculum Vitae must be submitted together with the application form.
  • Certified copies (certification preferably by Police Officers) of an applicant’s ID document, motor vehicle driver’s license (Police Act appointments), Senior Certificate and all educational qualifications obtained together with academic records (statement of results) thereof and service certificates of previous employers stating the occupation and the period, must also be submitted and attached to every application. The copies must be correctly certified on the copy itself, not at the back. The certification must not be older than three months.
  • APPLICANTS ARE REQUESTED TO INITIAL EACH AND EVERY PAGE OF THE APPLICATION FORM, CV INCLUDING ALL ANNEXURES.
  • All qualifications and driver’s licenses submitted will be subjected to verification checking with the relevant institutions. The South African Police Service will conduct reference checks.
  • The closing date for the applications is 2014-11-21. Applications must be mailed timeously. Late applications will not be accepted or considered.
  • Appointments will be made in terms of the SAPS Act or Public Service Act as applicable to the post environment.
  • If a candidate is short-listed, it can be expected of him/her to undergo a personal interview.
  • Successful applicants to be appointed in terms of the South African Police Service Act, 1995 (Act no 68 of 1995) and not yet applicants appointed in terms of the South African Police Service Act, 1995 (Act no 68 of 1995) will have to undergo a medical examination and found to be medically fit. They will further have to comply with the prescripts on the SAPS Dress Order, whereby tattoos may not be visible when wearing uniform, must be willing to undergo the prescribed Introductory Police Development Learning Programme and are expected to work flexi hours or shifts in the execution of their duties.
  • Short-listed candidates for appointment to certain identified posts, will be vetted in terms of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007 (Act No 32 of 2007) and the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No 38 of 2005). A candidate, whose particulars appear in either the National Register for Sex Offenders or Part B of the Child Protection Register, will be disqualified from appointment to that post.
  • All short-listed candidates will be subjected to fingerprint screening.
  • Correspondence will be conducted with successful candidates only. If you have not been contacted within three (3) months after the closing date of this advertisement, please accept that your application was unsuccessful.
  • The South African Police Service is under no obligation to fill a post after the advertisement thereof.
  • The South African Police Service is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and it is the intention to promote representivity in the Public Service through the filling of these posts. Persons whose transfer/appointment/promotion will promote representivity will therefore receive preference.

Applications and enquiries can be directed to:
Lt Colonel Klopper / Lieutenant Moonsamy
Tel: (012) 421-0194
Tel: (012) 421-0584

Postal Address:
Private Bag X 322
PRETORIA
0001

Hand Delivery:
Cnr Beckett and Pretorius Street
Strelitzia Building
Arcadia
0083

KZN Roadshow 2014: A look back

November 13th, 2014

Earlier this year the DNA Project held its second roadshow, this time conducted in KwaZulu-Natal, to further disseminate our DNA CSI message.

Our KZN Trainer Rhys McColl, who facilitated this year’s roadshow, briefly looks back at his experience…

As a Durban based trainer I have been predominantly involved with workshops in and around the Durban area.  In order to spread the DNA projects message around the KZN province, a “DNA Project Roadshow” was organised from the 8th - 11th of April 2014.  These workshops were held in Ladysmith, Newcastle, Ulundi, Richards Bay and Port Shepstone.

Newcastle

The first workshop was held at the town hall in the historically important city of Ladysmith.  A number of uniformed officers and members of the flying squad were in attendance to gain important instruction in terms of crime scene management.

The second workshop took place in the Newcastle farmer’s hall.  A very good turnout was seen thanks in part by the organisation of our workshop co-ordinator, Maya Moodley, and the enthusiastic approach by the Newcastle police trainers.  The audience was made up by a large number of police as well as paramedics and security personnel.  All those in attendance were eager to learn and the workshop was a great success.

Ulundi

On the third day of the roadshow, members of the Ulundi police force met at the IFP caucus room in the legislative building in Ulundi.  Once again there was a very good turnout.  On a very hot day in central KZN, a great workshop was had with everybody involved gaining insight into the importance of DNA evidence.

The penultimate talk was held at the Flamingo community hall in Richards Bay.  Once again there was a very good turnout on a hot and humid day on the coast.  Over 100 people attended the workshop with members of the police, paramedics and security companies present.

Richards Bay

The final stop in the roadshow was at the town hall in the South Coast town of Port Shepstone.  This final day would in fact turn out to be the most rewarding with a phenomenal attendance of over 250 people.  Of the 250 odd people, a large majority were police officers, however, a number of paramedics and community policing forum members were also present.

All in all the roadshow was a great success with over 550 people attending the 5 workshops and the success of this event has hopefully laid the foundation for many roadshows to come.

Rhys McColl (KZN DNA Awareness Trainer)

What Happens to a Dead Body in the Ocean?

October 30th, 2014

Deep-sea scavengers made quick work of this pig's carcass. Credit: VENUS/Gail Anderson and Lynne Bell

When a dead body decomposes in the ocean, scientists know little about what happens to it. To find out, some researchers performed an unusual experiment that involved dropping pig carcasses into the sea and watching them on video.

Lots of human bodies end up in the sea, whether due to accidents, suicides or from being intentionally dumped there, but nobody really knows what happens to them, said Gail Anderson, a forensic entomologist at Simon Fraser University in Canada who led the unusual study.

Anderson and her team got a chance to find out, using the Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea (VENUS), an underwater laboratory that allows scientists to take video and other measurements via the Internet. With that equipment, all they needed was a body. [See Video of Ocean Scavengers Eating the Dead Pigs]

“Pigs are the best models for humans,” Anderson told Live Science. They’re roughly the right size for a human body; they have the same kind of gut bacteria, and they’re relatively hairless, she said.

In the study, published Oct. 20 in the journal PLOS ONE, Anderson and her team used a remotely operated submarine to drop three pig carcasses into the Saanich Inlet, a body of salt water near Vancouver Island, British Columbia, at a depth of 330 feet (100 meters).

The researchers monitored what happened to the pig bodies using the live VENUS cameras, which they could control from anywhere with an Internet connection, and sensors that could measure oxygen levels, temperature, pressure, salinity and other factors. At the end of the study, the scientists collected the bones for further examination.

It didn’t take long for scavengers to find the pigs. Shrimp, Dungeness crabs and squat lobsters all arrived and started munching on the bodies; a shark even came to feed on one of the pig corpses. Scavengers ate the first two bodies down to the bones within a month, but they took months to pick the third one clean.

The third body likely took so much longer due to the levels of oxygen in the water, the researchers found.

The Saanich Inlet is a low-oxygen environment, and has no oxygen during some times of the year, Anderson said. When the researchers dropped the first two pigs into the water, the oxygen levels were about the same, but when scientists dropped the third body in, the levels were lower.

The big scavengers (Dungeness crab and shrimp) need more oxygen to smaller creatures like the squat lobsters. But the smaller animals’ mouths aren’t strong enough to break the skin of the pigs. So as long as the carcass entered the water when oxygen conditions were tolerable, the larger animals would feed, opening the bodies up for smaller critters and the squat lobsters, Anderson said. But when oxygen was low, the larger animals didn’t come, and the smaller animals couldn’t feed.

“Now we have a very good idea of how bodies break down underwater,” Anderson said. This kind of research helps solve mysteries such as the “floating feet” found wearing running shoes that have washed up along the West Coast in recent years. In fact, it’s quite normal for ocean scavengers to gnaw off feet, and the running shoes simply make the body parts float, Anderson said.

Knowing how bodies degrade in the ocean can give rescue divers a sense of what to look for, as well as manage the expectations of family members of those lost at sea, Anderson said.

SOURCE: This article was first published by Live Science on 28 October 2014 and written by Tanya Lewis – http://www.livescience.com/48480-what-happens-to-dead-body-in-ocean.html

Highlights from ISHI25, Phoenix, Arizona and SFO, USA

October 20th, 2014

Vanessa Lynch outside the Californian Dept. of Justice Forensci DNA Lab, follwoing a tour of the facility and a presentation

Vanessa Lynch outside the Californian Dept. of Justice Forensic DNA Lab, following a tour of the facility and a presentation.

It is hard to believe that almost three weeks have passed since I set off for the USA where I was so unbelievably lucky to have attended and presented at the 25th International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI25) in Phoenix, Arizona as well as visit and present at two significant Forensic Science Labs in San Francisco, CA.

Thank you to both Promega and Thermo Fisher for providing me with this amazing opportunity.

At any given time, I honestly felt that I needed to pinch myself to assure myself that I was not dreaming! Not only did I meet renowned international leaders in the field of forensic DNA technology, but I learned so much about how and why different administrations treat the collection and retention of DNA profiles in the way that they do.

In so doing, I was able to gain greater perspective on what we are doing in South Africa, where we are in keeping with the advances in this technology and where sadly, we are still falling way, way behind. I say this because whilst we are still fighting for our DNA Act to become operational, and have just moved from sequencing 10 to 16 loci for our forensic DNA profiles, the rest of the world with developed DNA Databases, are using 24 loci and talking about implementing New Generation Sequencing – with this platform, and I quote (!), “there is increased interpretation of degraded DNA because SNPs can theoretically be amplified with as little as 50-70 nucleotide long amplicons instead of the longer amplicons needed for STRs.” Click here to read more if this excites you!

Vanessa Lynch with John Butler, author of Advanced Topics in Forensic DNA Typing: Interpretation. His 1st edition of Forensic DNA Typing, published in 2001, quickly established itself as the gold-standard reference for the field. Over the next ten years, the vast amount of new information uncovered has resulted in this new volume.

Vanessa Lynch with John Butler, author of Advanced Topics in Forensic DNA Typing: Interpretation. His 1st edition of Forensic DNA Typing, published in 2001, quickly established itself as the gold-standard reference for the field. Over the next ten years, the vast amount of new information uncovered has resulted in this new volume.

For an overview of the ISHI conference and what was presented, please read the below summary by Terri Sundquist, which also happens to briefly mention my presentation…

“I was one of almost 1,000 people who attended the 25th International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI25) in Phoenix, Arizona. This scientific meeting brings together DNA analysts from forensic and paternity labs, research scientists and others with an interest in DNA-based identification to learn about new technologies, policy and process changes, and current and future trends in DNA typing. There were so many great presentations and learning opportunities, how do I pick just a few of them to highlight?”

To read more, please click here http://www.promegaconnections.com/highlights-from-ishi25/

On a lighter note, two conversations which I found somewhat bemusing, were the ones I had with the Forensic Scientists from the Singapore and Chinese DNA Forensic Labs respectively.

The first conversation, with Singapore, revolved around the Oscar Pistoruis Trial: I was simply told that in Singapore, Mr Pistorius would now be dead – for the simple reason that it is illegal to own a firearm in Singapore, and if found to have one in your possession, it is life imprisonment. If anyone discharges a firearm, even accidentally, into the floor, it is the death sentence. It is no wonder that when I asked the scientist from Singapore how many criminal cases they deal with a year, the answer was : no more than 20 – per year!

New Generation Sequencing....

New Generation Sequencing....

The other conversation that left my jaw dropping, was with the Chinese scientist. This scientist correctly deduced that our number of arrestees and convicted offenders per annum is going to far outweigh our laboratory capacity, (especially at the start of the new DNA Act’s implementation) and accordingly suggested that we send samples to China to be processed because they can process as many as 800,000 samples per month — compare this to our anticipated capacity of approximately around 34,000 per month!

On that note, let’s not forget that our Minister of Police, Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko, has not yet declared our DNA Act to be operational nor has the appointment of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board been appointed — two critical factors which inhibit the implementation of the new DNA Act. If we are not taking samples from arrestees and convicted offenders, that means we are not loading profiles onto our DNA Database. It is no longer a question of whether a DNA Database is a valuable criminal intelligence tool — it is a given and the use and successes of Forensic DNA Databases are undisputed worldwide.

Unlike in Singapore, in South Africa, we probably have  20 criminal cases happening per minute, which is why the urgent operational date of this Act needs to be declared.

We have the tools, now let’s get on with the business of using those tools! Please Mr Minister - this ought to be a top priority on your agenda.

Vanessa Lynch

Thank you OSF-SA

October 17th, 2014

Yesterday I submitted our final progress report to the Open Society Foundation for South Africa [OSF-SA]. This brings to a close 7 years of funding and support we have received from the OSF-SA since 2007.

OSF-Header

The OSF-SA first contacted me on the 3rd October 2007 following a programme on Carte Blanche which highlighted the work we were doing and what we were trying to achieve in SA. The then Programme Director of the Criminal Justice Initiative of the OSF-SA ,  having watched the programme, sent me the following email:

“Dear Vanessa

The Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) is a grant making organisation based in Cape Town (www.osf.org.za). The goal of the Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI) as a programme of the Foundation is to build accountability within the criminal justice system with the intention of ensuring a more humane, efficient and accountable criminal justice process as a whole. To this end, the CJI provides funding to a range of NGO’s working in the field of criminal justice.

While we can give no guarantees of financial support at this stage, we would be very interested in hearing more about the DNA Project and its work. If you are interested in setting up an initial exploratory meeting with us, please give me a call or send me an e-mail.

Kind regards
Louise”

Well, the rest as they say, is history. Following a meeting the next week with the OSF-SA and after drafting and submitting my first funding application on behalf of the DNA Project on the 19th October 2007, The OSF-SA provided The DNA Project with a development grant for R43 000 on the 3rd December 2007. This grant was our first official funding grant ever received and allowed the DNA Project to get off the ground and start fulfilling its objectives. Since that time, the OSF-SA has provided continuous assistance to our organisation by supporting the following initiatives:

• Developing our Post Graduate Honours Degree in Forensic Analysis;
• Lobbying Government to pass the DNA Act;
• Attending the Interpol DNA User’s Conference in Lyon in both 2010 and 2013;
• Producing and distributing DNA and Crime Scene Awareness Material throughout SA;
• Creating training protocols for DNA and crime scene awareness workshops;
• Hosting national DNA and Crime Scene Awareness Workshops amongst first on crime scene responders and the general public;
• Funding the operational costs of the organisation such as audit fees, support staff salaries and travel;
• Developing the website;
• Hosting a series of Legal workshops for officers of the court to ensure DNA’s optimal use in the criminal justice system;
• Registering a series of training materials and workshops with SASSETA for the DNA and crime scene awareness training protocols have developed;
• Publishing a paper for the CJI Occasional Paper Series on Forensic DNA Profiling.

May we take this opportunity to thank the OSF-SA for helping us to pursue and fulfil our stated objectives to date. Whilst our work is by no means over, their unconditional support of our organisation and the continued trust and belief they have shown in the work that we have done since 2007, has carried us through some of the most groundbreaking and challenging years we have faced in our efforts to maximise the use of DNA profiling in South Africa to help resolve crime.

with heartfelt appreciation and thanks from,

Vanessa Lynch and the rest of  The DNA Project Team.


Draft of forensic DNA regulations published for public comment

October 14th, 2014

Under Section 15AD of the South African Police Service Act, draft regulations outlining how the South African Police Service (SAPS) will be allowed to take DNA samples from suspects have been drawn up in terms of Section 6 of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act of 2013 [the "DNA ACT"].

These draft regulations were published on the 9th of October 2014 in Government Gazette 38074 for public comment.

All interested parties have been invited to comment on the draft regulations within 21 days of the publication – i.e. by no later than the 30th of October 2014.

Comments must be made in writing and directed to:

Brigadier M van Rooyen
Legal Services: Governance, Policy and Legislation Management
South African Police Service

E-mail address: vanrooyenmsaps.gov.za

Fax number: (012) 393 7098

Street address:
Room No. 311
3rd Floor
Presidia Building
255 Pretorius Street
Cr. Paul Kruger and Pretorius Street
PRETORIA

To view a PDF copy of Government Gazette 38074, please click here.

To view a PDF summary of the DNA Act, please click here.

Once the submissions have been received and considered, the draft regulations will be submitted to the Minister of Police for approval.

The draft regulations focus on, inter alia:

  • The taking of a buccal sample;
  • The keeping of records in respect of collected buccal and crime scene samples;
  • Preservation and timely transfer of collected samples to the Forensic Science Laboratory;
  • Conducting of comparative searches;
  • Communication of forensic DNA findings and related information;
  • DNA examinations conducted at the Forensic Science Laboratories;
  • Request for access to information stored on the NFDD;
  • Follow-up of forensic investigative leads;
  • Destruction of buccal samples;
  • Notification of court findings;
  • Removal of forensic DNA profiles from the NFDD;
  • Protocols and training relating to familial searches;
  • Complaints to the Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board;
  • Reports;
  • Information technology infrastructure and systems; and
  • Requests for removal of DNA profiles.