Every day innocent people needlessly become victims of violent crimes in our country. Most of these are committed by repeat offenders. By sending a strong message to the South African Government to pass legislation that enables law enforcers to collect DNA from arrestees and convicted offenders we can catch criminals sooner. That means you can help prevent most of these crimes, save more lives, and provide more protection to the innocent. Sign up today to show that you believe that the proposed DNA legislation, officially known as The Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill B09-2013 currently before Parliament should be made law. If passed, this law will revolutionise crime scene investigation in South Africa in line with best international practice and increase the number of convictions secured.
The Portfolio Committee on Police has invited all interested people to submit written comments on the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill by no later than the 30 May 2013. You can also sign our petition by clicking on the following link Sign our petition here and show your support to Pass the DNA Legislation!
If you believe that our Government should pass this vitally important legislation, then please show your support and draft a submission to Parliament. Written submissions addressed to the Portfolio Committee on Police, should be directed to the Committee Secretary, Babalwa Mbengo, and posted to P. O. Box 15, Cape Town 8000, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 086 665 5444. You must indicate your interest in making a verbal presentation to the Committee in your submission, should you wish to do so.
You may wish to include in your submission some or all of the following points:
As a concerned South African citizen, I welcome the introduction of the Criminal Law (Forensics Procedures) Bill into Parliament and support its promulgation into law as a matter of extreme urgency to help fight crime in our country. The passing of this Bill, in its current form, into law will help identify serial offenders at an early stage of the investigation as well as link perpetrators to their crimes through an objective and reliable science. It will also ensure that the innocent are exonerated.
- The existing DNA Database in South Africa which has through default, evolved under the governance of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977, is a wholly inadequate tool for regulating the use and retention of DNA profiles on a National DNA Database. The new Bill ensures that the future of the current DNA Database is expanded and managed in a regulated and appropriate manner.
- I endorse the provision that makes it mandatory to take DNA samples from suspects at the time of arrest and believe that it should extend to all arrestees and not just those arrested for schedule one offences.
- It is imperative to ensure that all convicted offenders DNA samples are taken retrospectively and before their release from prison.
- I further support the provision that trained Police Officers be allowed to take non intimate DNA samples from arrestees and convicted offenders. The collection of a non-intimate DNA sample by a specially trained police officer from an arrestee or convicted offender ensures that a sample is quickly and easily uplifted. The “invasiveness” of the methods of obtaining DNA samples (rubbing a swab around the person’s mouth, or obtaining a drop or two of blood from a pin-prick to a finger), are no different to having a breathalyser taken on suspicion of drunken driving.
- The DNA Bill ensures the creation of a DNA database in South Africa that will function effectively not only as a tool for gathering inculpatory evidence, but also for gathering exculpatory evidence, to appropriately eliminate suspects and so safeguard against wrongful convictions or other miscarriages of justice.
- The way in which the DNA profiles are stored on the DNA Database, namely by using markers from the non coded regions of a person’s DNA ensures that no genetic disposition or other distinguishing feature may be read from that profile other than gender. The retention of the profile, in that form, is the same as a fingerprint, and therefore its retention does not impact on the privacy of the individual in any way whatsoever.
- The creation of a Reference Index, Crime Scene Index and Convicted Offender Index ensures that DNA profiles are appropriately stored and managed.
- The DNA Bill adequately retains an appropriate balance between the rights of individuals and the respect for privacy. The new Bill has been carefully drafted to ensure that the DNA Database is maximized to its full potential in combating and preventing crime in South Africa, whilst still ensuring that it has minimal impact on the civil rights of its citizens.
- The Bill importantly calls for an Oversight Committee to be formed which will monitor the implementation of this legislation. The Oversight Committee will monitor the collection and storage of samples, the performance of the Forensic Science Laboratory and the National Forensic DNA Database. The Board will ensure compliance with ethical and privacy issues and ensure minimum quality standards are set and adhered to. Over time the Oversight Committee will establish the effectiveness of the legislation in the fight against crime and review the Bill in order that any necessary changes are made to maximise the efficiency of the use of the Database as a criminal intelligence tool.
- The DNA Bill shows that the Government has explicitly tackled the scourge of crime in South Africa by demonstrating that if there is any perceived intrusion on an individual through the retention of their DNA profile, it is outweighed by a demonstrated and long awaited interest in protecting its citizens against serious and violent and crimes.
- In order to ensure the successful implementation of this legislation, I believe that First-on-crime scene police investigators, as well as key personnel involved in crime scenes, including the private security and emergency services sector, must be trained in how to identify, collect and preserve DNA evidence at crime scenes, so that critical evidence can be collected and fewer cases will be at risk of being jeopardised due to the mishandling of evidence. In addition, officers of the courts must be educated in how DNA evidence technology works to corroborate a case against a suspect or exonerate a suspect quickly, thereby decreasing delays in court.
- The public interest which is served by the new Bill, is important, especially in cases of violent crime where DNA matching has been proven to be invaluable in matching a suspect to a crime scene. I believe the Bill, when passed, will have a profound impact on the criminal justice system in South Africa.