Archive for the ‘DNA Act’ Category

 

Carte Blanche ‘Catch-Up’ with Vanessa

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Watch Vanessa Lynch’s recent ‘catch-up’ interview with Carte Blanche‘s Laura Byrne at the 4th Annual Forensic Services Conference wherein she discusses the continued work of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (NFOEB) and the implementation of the DNA Act.

To view the programme segment please click here.

Secretariat of DNA Board – post advert

Friday, January 27th, 2017

The following position of Secretariat on the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (DNA Board) (Ref: CSP/01/2017) is currently being advertised.

For enquiries, please kindly contact Ms Lerato Maisela on 012 393 2500 / 1916.

CENTRE: Pretoria

SALARY: R 898 743 per annum (All inclusive remuneration package)

REQUIREMENTS

  • An LLB degree or equivalent tertiary qualification and registration with CIS (Chartered Secretaries Southern Africa) will be an added advantage.
  • A minimum of 5 years’ experience at Middle Management.
  • Sound knowledge of Public Service Systems and applicable legislations and regulations (Corporate legislations, King, III: PFMA, etc.) as well as their functioning.
  • A proven track record in the management of Corporate Governance, working with Boards of Public Entities, processes and systems, Sound and extensive track record incorporating Governance, Budget management and Strategic Management, Be a strategic and analytical thinker with excellent communication and writing skills, People and diversity management experience.
  • Ability to follow organizational objectives and drive synergies in a mature manner and provide a proven track record of experience in similar/relevant previous assignments.
  • Advanced legal drafting skills, Good presentation skills, Good facilitation skills and Project management skills,
  • Sound financial management skills, Planning and organizing skills, Problem solving and decision-making skills, Research skills and Report writing skills.
  • Ability to prioritize and work under pressure.

DUTIES

  • Drafting and development of Policies and Procedures, Drafting recommendations for improvement to legislation and Keeping the Board fully informed of existing and new legislative requirements.
  • Support the DNA Board in the effective management of the Board by drafting reports, developing systems reports.
  • Overseeing the implementation of appropriate database management software solutions, ensuring training of stakeholders and acting as a communication and information channel for the Board members.
  • Overall management and development of the DNA Board staff in terms of Performance Management and Development System.

DNA Board 2015/16 Annual Report

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

The National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (or ‘DNA Board’), with Vanessa in attendance as Deputy Chair, met on the 23rd of November to present its Annual Report for 2015/2016 before the Portfolio Committee on Police regarding the DNA Act and its ongoing implementation.

Below is the outcome of what was discussed at the public meeting and includes copies of the report and presentation for viewing.

Meeting Summary

The Committee met with the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (DNA Board), and its accounting officer, the Civilian Secretariat of Police (CSP), to be briefed on its Annual Report for the 2015/16 financial year. Before the briefing, the Committee Content Adviser prepped Members by providing an introductory presentation on the functions of the Board, procedure for handling complaints, composition of the Board, reporting requirements, issues reported to the Committee in its last engagement with the Board in March 2016 and possible questions for the Committee to consider.

The DNA Board then briefed the Committee on part one of its Annual Report for the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, namely, members of the Board, meetings of the Board for the period, governance and sub-committees and the budget of the Board for the 2015/ 16 financial year. The Report also looked at the Board’s strategic objectives for 2015/16 and challenges encountered in achieving the stated objectives and strategic objectives of the Board for the 2016/17 financial year…

To download and read the full Meeting Summary and Report, please click here.

To download the DNA Board Annual Report, please click here.

To download the DNA Board presentation, please click here.

I Am Woman: Thank you!

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

I have been inundated with messages of love and support since the showing of the below documentary on the work of the DNA Project.

It was not a journey I undertook alone and thank you to my amazing DNA Project family for your passion and unwavering support over the last decade.

In particular the documentary pays such beautiful tribute to my Dad, Johnny Lynch – it is the first time I have seen my Dad ‘live’ in video since his death (we didn’t realise my brother had these videos…) and it took my breath away — for my daughter and my family sitting around me, it felt as if he was in the room with us and you could have heard a pin drop as the tears fell upon our cheeks.

My Dad has always been my ‘silent’ partner in this journey, having not chosen to use his name in my work, because that was what my Dad was always about — he always told me that true charity is when you give something of yourself but never tell anyone about it — well in some ways that was what he did and in this programme it was his time to shine and I am so glad that his story was told, even though I know he would still be humble about it!

In loving memory of the true hero in this story, my dearest Dad, John Lynch

~ Vanessa

Thank you to Lisa Chait and Lauren Groenewald together with the whole “I AM WOMAN” team. It was a real honour for our DNA Project family to be part of your inspirational programme.

I AM WOMAN LEAP OF FAITH is a South African television and online series presented by storyteller Lisa Chait. It features the lives and Leaps of Faith of remarkable women exploring how they stepped into brand new territory when faced with life’s greatest challenges and opportunities. Each episode uncovers the turning points and pivotal moments of change in their lives. We also explore where they turned to when the chips were down.

To learn more about the series or to view past episodes, please visit www.iamwomanseries.com

Some of the wonderful comments we received via our social media and emails – Thank you all for your very kind words of support:

“Dear Vanessa, Congratulations…. what a lovely documentary. Your family have every reason to be so very proud of you. Both Brian and I thought that every interview was excellent and both felt very humbled to be connected to such a remarkable achievement and woman. I just wish that neither of us, (you and I) had to experience the trauma that we did for this to happen. You will be in the history books! Lots of love, respect, and admiration” ~ Diana Thomson (Mike Thomson Change A Life Trust)

“I hope you are all feeling very proud of what you did and achieved… I smiled, I laughed, I cried, I felt happy, I felt sad, but above all, I felt blessed and privileged to know you all. Vee, you really are the champion and all your seconds along the way have walked / run the race with you. I know that for you the hero in this story is and always will be Johnny – for me, it’s all of you. God bless – take care – lots of love” ~ Carol xx

“I just wanted to share with you how touched I was by your story that was aired last night. Thank you for touching the hearts of many others in a time of great sorry and pain. What a lady!!!!!!!!!!!! Thought I must share with you how much it meant to me” ~ Elsabe

“I watched a program of you last night,I am woman. What you have done is amazing and is a lasting legacy. May God bless you for your strength and courage. Thank you from a South African dad” ~ Rudi

“You’re an amazing woman Vanessa. When unsolved cases of someone dear to us go unsolved, it’s heart breaking. We salute you and thank you for your “Leap of Faith”” ~ Colleen

“I have cried while watching this very poignant story. What an incredible person you are Vanessa. I am amazed at your dedication and tenacity. You deserve more recognition for your brilliant work. Well done” ~ Alison

“Was so incredibly emotional and inspirational to watch last night. So much respect for what you and the team are doing for the country. Thank you” ~ Marieka

“Really heartfelt, whilst informative all at the same time” ~ Nolwazi

Change a Life – Mike Thomson murder feedback

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

We received the following incredible feedback from the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust that we wish to share…

It was eight years ago that Mike Thomson was tragically murdered and the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust was formed in his memory. In all these years his killers had not been brought to book but his mother, Diana, reports that the wait for justice is finally over.

On Tuesday, 26 July 2016, the final member and leader of the gang responsible for Mike’s murder was sentenced to 15 years for armed robbery and 20 years for murder. Although the sentence will run concurrently with the 37 years he is serving at present, it will add to the years he will not be eligible for parole. Diana says that, after all the years Razor Zulu has been completely unrepentant and has pleaded not guilty to the crime, he made an about face the day before the trial and plead guilty to the crime.  He also apologised to Diana and Lorna, Mike’s widow.

Two members of the gang had previously pleaded guilty and turned state witness against Razor Zulu and another man named Stofele. They were given 25 and 20 years respectively.  The final outcome has been that of the five members of the gang, three are in prison, one was killed during a gun battle after escaping from prison and Stofele was released for lack of evidence against him.

Mike’s family can finally take comfort that these people will not be at liberty to continue with their reign of terror for many years to come.

The DNA Project wishes to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust for their many years of amazing support.

Their continued support enabled us to bring about a positive change not only through our various projects and awareness campaigns, but most importantly in allowing us to champion the need for effective legislation in South Africa – which ultimately lead to the passing of the new ‘DNA Act’ – to make better use of forensic DNA evidence as a crime fighting tool.

Thank you!

How to catch a criminal through DNA

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

The following is the second part of an exclusive series of articles published by the Cape Argus on the Plattekloof Forensic Science Laboratory in the Western Cape.

Writer Lance Witten has his cheek swabbed for DNA before touring the Plattekloof Forensic Science Laboratory which deals with a variety of forensic disciplines and evidence for crime and court cases. Picture: Tracey Adams. Credit: CAPE ARGUS

Cape Town – The gleaming floors of the Police Forensics Laboratory reflect the light from the energy-saving intelligent fluorescent lighting above.

Colonel Thembela Lamani, head of the Biology unit, leads the Cape Argus team through the silent halls of strictly secured offices and laboratories in the Plattekloof facility.

Inside the glass-walled labs, scrubbed technicians busy themselves with some of the most sensitive work the Cape Town facility handles.

Cross contamination is a constant risk and needs to be mitigated as stringently as possible.

To continue reading the full article, please click here.

SOURCE: This article was first published online by IOL News on the 14th of June 2016

Inside the SAPS’ Forensics Lab

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

The following is the first part of an exclusive series of articles published by the Cape Argus on the Plattekloof Forensic Science Laboratory in the Western Cape.

The Forensic Science Laboratory in Plattekloof, which deals with a variety of forensic disciplines and evidence for crime and court cases. Picture: Tracey Adams. Credit: CAPE ARGUS

Cape Town – The Western Cape has one of the most advanced police forensic laboratories in the country, purpose-built and designed with the utmost security and fidelity principles in mind.

How advanced? The facility in Plattekloof, is about 28 000m² of floor space housing about 500 staff members – two-thirds of whom are forensic scientists – working in laboratories containing pieces of equipment valued at up to R4 million, each capable of accurately analysing evidence, be it DNA, bullet casings and cartridges, documents, signatures or drugs and alcohol.

The Police Forensic Laboratory was built at an estimated cost of R600m and doesn’t fit the mould of traditional government buildings, which are often retrofitted to suit the purpose of the departments they house.

Brigadier Deon Meintjes, who runs the facility, explains that the lab was built by the Department of Public Works to the unit’s requirements and was designed without too much external input or influence from other labs around the world.

“We designed and built it to suit our needs.

“You’ll notice all of the various departments have the same kind of layout; the offices are situated around the outskirts of a central core – the labs. This is so that all of the fitments run centrally, from the Nederman arms (adjustable ventilation ducts to keep harmful or toxic fumes away from lab technicians), to the water and gas pipes and the rail cart system.”

To continue reading the full article, please click here.

SOURCE: This article was first published online by IOL News on the 13th of June 2016

#OscarPistorius’ murder conviction means his DNA will be placed on NFDD

Friday, December 4th, 2015

With the recent Supreme Court of Appeal’s recent ruling pronouncing ‪Oscar Pistorius‬ guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013 and the overturning of his previous culpable homicide conviction, it is important to note that Oscar’s DNA will now have to be taken and his DNA profile placed onto our National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD) as a convicted offender where it will be retained indefinitely.

His DNA may well have already been taken as a result of his earlier culpable homicide conviction, as both are listed as a Schedule 8 offence under the new DNA Act, but this conviction was given before the Act was made fully operational on the 31st of January 2015.

2015 International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI)

Monday, October 12th, 2015

In its 26th year, ISHI is the largest conference on forensic DNA analysis in the world and will take place from October 12 – October 15, in Grapevine, Texas (US).

Following her presentation at last year’s ISHI, Vanessa was invited to return this year and will be presenting a talk (Wednesday, October 14) entitled “Investigation of a Ruthless Rapist” – which will focus on the identification and conviction of Albert Morake, a ruthless South African serial rapist who committed 30 rapes between 2007 until his capture in 2012.

This year’s keynote speaker is Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person to be exonerated from death row through post-conviction DNA testing, and will open the symposium by sharing his story. Bloodsworth spent nine years in prison and more than two years on death row before DNA evidence identified the true perpetrator of the 1984 rape and murder for which he was imprisioned. Today, Bloodsworth is an advocate for the wrongfully convicted and speaks publicly to highlight the risk of wrongful convictions and dangers of the death penalty.

ISHI 26 includes presentations from leading professionals in the fields of forensic DNA analysis, genomics, forensic anthropology, medical molecular diagnostics, law enforcement and more.

Filmmaker Alexa Barrett and Sara Huston Katsanis, a Science & Society Initiative Instructor at Duke University, will be presenting The Living Disappeared, an exploration of how DNA is being used to prevent child trafficking. Their presentation will include a brief preview of Barrett’s film by the same name.

Phenotyping, which utilizes DNA evidence to help predict what a suspect might look like, will be explored from multiple angles. Ellen Greytak, Director of Bioinformatics at Parabon NanoLabs, will present DNA Phenotyping: Predicting Ancestry and Physical Appearance from Forensic DNA, and David Ballard, a research associate in forensic genetics and senior scientist at King’s College London, will present DNA Phenotyping: What Can and Should We Predict?

Other presenters include: Marie Allen (Uppsala University, Sweden), Bruce Budowle (Institute of Applied Genetics), Thomas Callaghan (Federal Bureau of Investigation), Douglas Hares (Federal Bureau of Investigation), Rock Harmon (retired, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office), George Herrin (Georgia Bureau of Investigation), CeCe Moore (Institute for Genetic Genealogy), Fredy Peccerelli (Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala) and Jim Thomson (LGC).

This year’s event also includes more than 140 scientific posters including a submission by Colleen Fitzpatrick, a forensic genealogist, who will share her work exposing false Holocaust accounts. Fitzpatrick is also collaborating on the recently re-opened “Somerton Man” case, which involves the exhumation of a 45-year-old John Doe who died under mysterious circumstances and washed up on a beach fully clothed in Adelaide, Australia, in 1948.

In addition to the 3-day series of general session presentations, optional small group workshops are available, including:

  • Analyzing and Utilizing Data from Next-Generation Sequencers in the Forensic Genomics Era
  • Forensic Mixtures: Assessment, Analysis and Technology: Current Methods, New Approaches and Disruptive Technologies
  • Advanced Methods for DNA Based Identification of Skeletal Remains Countdown to 2017: Internal Validation of the New CODIS Loci
  • DNA Identification Strategies for Skeletal Remains and Other Challenging Samples

A complete list of workshops, speaker biographies, the ISHI blog and ongoing program updates are available at the symposium website: www.ishinews.com.

This symposium for forensic experts and suppliers is offered through Promega Corporation, a leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry. Founded in 1978, the company is headquartered in Madison, WI, USA, with branches in 16 countries and over 50 global distributors. For more information about Promega, visit www.promega.com.

Criminal Justice System (CJS) Modernisation: follow-up meeting with SAPS and its stakeholders

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Last week (10 June) the Portfolio Committee on Police met with a number of key stakeholders to follow up on issues relating to the modernisation of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

The Committee previously met with SAPS on 13 May 2015 where it was briefed on its CJS, Integrated Justice System (IJS) and Technology Management System (TMS) projects.

At this meeting, it came to the fore that there were certain challenges experienced in terms of the execution of some of the projects with some of the role-players. There were currently 73 technology projects run by SAPS of which 15 were linked to other departments.

This follow-up meeting afforded the Committee the opportunity to meet with the relevant stakeholders, e.g. SITA, Department of Public Works (DPW) and Department of Home Affairs (DHA), to get a full picture of the issues at hand.

During the meeting the Committee heard a presentation by SITA (State Information Technology Agency) where the role of SITA, status, time and outstanding matters on a number of projects were discussed – which included:

  • National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD): SITA appointed a team to assist the SAPS in the implementation of the NFDD (CODIS) solution. The team had started the preparation of the environment from where the system will operate.
  • LABWARE: A software solution procured by SAPS directly, which managed workflow of all specimen in the forensic LAB
  • Forensic Science Laboratory Administration System: Administration system behind the forensic science laboratory

Following SITA’s presentation, Vanessa, as Deputy Chair of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board, asked SITA if the decision had been made to implement CODIS and when it was anticipated this would take place.

In response, Lt. Gen. JK Phalane, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Forensic Services, replied saying that SAPS had since opted to have a security assessment on CODIS in collaboration with the State Security Agency. Once there was an outcome of the assessment, SAPS would then provide an internal instruction.

She also questioned the blockages created through the chemistries employed and that there seemed to be a procurement issue with the new DNA kits being used. The integrity of the database rested on the data being inputted and she was concerned about compromising this integrity.

To view the full meeting minutes, please click here.