Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

 

Invitation to the founding meeting for Forensic Science Academy

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Dear Forensic Science Colleagues in Southern Africa,

We have been talking in our sector for a number of years that as the “next step” in the evolution of forensic science in South/Southern Africa we need to form a body that will at the minimum e.g.

a)  Aim to protect our combined interests.
b)  Create a forum for discussion amongst ourselves.

During the past year this issue has come to the fore on many occasions, during many discussions and we thank each of you who indicated support for the idea.

The time is right for us to get together, discuss what we require of such a body, and get the body started.

INVITATION TO THE MEETING

For this reason you are invited to the founding meeting of this body, which we have thus far (for lack of a better name) started to call the “Southern African Academy for Forensic Science” or SAAFS for short.

ENVISAGE MEETING SCHEDULE

There is a tentative schedule to introduce the following in order to stimulate discussion (you will note we call it an “academy” until we decide on a final name):

a)      Context of the meeting.
b)      Why an academy?
c)      What do we require from an academy?
d)      Model of the academy.
e)      Membership categories.
f)       Membership fees.
g)      Who should be able to join (only South Africans or SADC members or wider)?
h)      Discussion: e.g. a SWOT analysis for the academy.
i)       The way forward.

Please send us any suggestions you may have for the agenda.

MEETING DETAILS

  • Date of meeting: Wednesday, November 16th, 2016.
  • Start of meeting: 10:00 (to give colleagues time to fly in from other centres)
  • Duration: estimated at no more than 2-3 hours.
  • Venue: To be confirmed, but it will be in Pretoria.
  • RSVP deadline: Friday, November 11th, 2016.

INVITATION OF OTHERS TO THE MEETING

Given the short timeline to the meeting, we want to urge that you send the contact details of anyone that you may think should also be invited to the meeting to me as soon as possible. Please include the following details for them: title, name, surname, institution, field of practice, email address, telephone (work), mobile number. Given the venue limitations and catering needs, we will unfortunately NOT be able to accommodate anyone that did not RSVP ahead of time. We want to make the meeting as inclusive as possible, so please get as many as possible of your colleagues to attend and complete the survey (to be sent out in the next few days).

RSVP & SURVEY

  • Please RSVP to the following email address: forensics@DNAbiotec.com – which was created specifically for this purpose.
  • In a few days you will receive a link to complete a short survey prior to the meeting. This survey will also be sent via the same email address whilst we get an official website up and running.
  • Given that we have a near zero budget for the meeting, please do not RSVP that you will attend, if you do not intend to physically attend.
  • Even if you cannot attend, please complete the survey to indicate your interest (or not) in forming this body, and provide us with your input.

We realise a lot needs to be done in a very short period of time, prior to our meeting on November 16th. Please follow this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FPFLXQ3 to complete a short survey (it will take about 15 minutes to complete).

The deadline for the survey is Friday, November 11th, 2016, at 17:00. Please do not leave it until the deadline complete it as soon as possible.

Please complete the following short survey PRIOR to our meeting of the 16th of November. It is important that you complete this survey:

a)      If you want to remain on the mailing list & stay up to date with the process as it develops.
b)      Even if you are attending the meeting – we need to compile the agenda from some of the feedback in the survey.
c)      Also if you are NOT going to attend the meeting – this is your opportunity to give us feedback.
d)      To indicate whether you support/or not support the founding of such a body.

It is thus critical that everyone who receives this email complete the survey so that we can use the time on the 16th of November optimally. If you forwarded the original email on to people that is NOT on our mailing list, please also forward this email on to them, so that we can get a comprehensive view of the sector – it will maximise our discussions next week!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

The academy is intended for scientists who actively practice in the forensic sector. We will probably form various categories of membership to encompass the entire sector hence our invitation to all stakeholders in the sector for this meeting.

TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS

Please note that all of us are responsible for our own travel arrangements to and from the meeting. We literally have a zero budget for this meeting and are still in the process of looking for sponsors for e.g. refreshments.

PLEASE UPDATE YOUR DETAILS

Please use the link below this email to update your contact details. This is essential in order to ensure that we have an updated database going forward.

THE PROCESS THUS FAR

We want to state upfront that the process that got us to this point is not perfect, and most of the steps we will take forward may also not be perfect. We trust that you will look beyond this and see the forest, the need for us to organise ourselves and to get our profession to where it should be. This can only be achieved if each of us agrees to leave our disputes at the door of this meeting and work together to make forensic science in South Africa the tool for justice it should be.

The small group of people that have been talking to get us to this point is from various institutions (government, department of health, various private forensic science companies or consultants, academics who provide training in this field). For ease of reference we have referred to ourselves until now as the “Forensic Science Workgroup”.

The next and last communication that we plan to send out to all is an email that will be sent on Monday, November 14th 2016. It will state the final arrangements for the meeting as well as the venue.

Regards,
Forensic Science Workgroup

  • Alida Grove – Dept of Health
  • Antonel Olckers – DNA
  • Gert Saayman – Forensic Pathology UP
  • Jason Jordaan – Digital Forensics
  • Marise Heyns – Academia UCT
  • Ryan Blumenthal – Forensic Pathology UP
  • Wes van der Westhuizen – Ballistics

9th Annual Women in Law Enforcement Conference

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

In the quest to discuss creative strategies in combating crime, ITC’s 9th Annual Leadership Development for Women in Law Enforcement conference (25 – 27 May 2016) will bring law enforcement entities together with the aim of strengthening collaboration and partnerships at all levels of enforcement, bringing together various enforcement directives in the quest to empower, inspire and awaken the spirit to leadership.

Both local and international speakers will boost exceptional individuals that have through their hard work and determination, put fellow women law enforcers on the global map and have proven that it is possible to lead, despite gender challenges.

The annual ITC conference also includes an awards ceremony on day two and is a platform where women law enforcers are recognised for their contribution to enforcement.

Some confirmed speakers include:

  • Major General Liziwe Ntshinga

Provincial Head: Directorate For Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) Free State
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE

  • Annalene Marais

Deputy Chief of Police: Operations
CAPE TOWN METROPOLITAN  POLICE DEPARTMENT

  • Ursula Mc’Crystal

Head : Anti Money Laundering Surveillance
STANDARD BANK OF SOUTH AFRICA

  • Captain Elmarie Myburgh

Investigative Psychology Section: CR & CSM
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE

  • Lieutenant  Colonel Heila Niemand

Provincial Unit Commander Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offence (FCS)
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE

INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE:

  • Agent Valerie Parlave

Executive Assistant Director
FEDERAL BEREAU OF INVESTIGATION WASHINGTON

KEY STRATEGIES TO BE DISCUSSED:

  • Creating a culture of quality service delivery in law enforcement
  • Using various leadership traits as a woman in law enforcement
  • Looking at the role of law enforcement in addressing the protection of women and children
  • Advancing your management capacitation through stronger mentorship
  • Excelling as a woman law enforcer by utilising Emotional Intelligence to your benefit
  • Pursuing a career based on your passion to make a difference
  • Encouraging continuous education for women within law enforcement
  • Strengthening the fight against Cyber Crimes
  • Addressing physical and psychological challenges faced by women in policing
  • Women in law enforcement complementing instead of competing
  • Equipping yourself and your team with the right tools to execute your directive

To learn more about the conference please visit: http://www.intelligencetransferc.co.za/conferences/9th-annual-leadership-for-women-in-law-enforcement/

Change a Life Wonderland Cycle Tour 2016

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

The 2016 Change a Life Wonderland Cycle Tour, scheduled to take place from 22 to 27 September heads to the magical Island of Mauritius.

Where participants will be treated to unspoilt beaches, crystal blue waters, exclusive luxury accommodation and an adventure that will be remembered forever…

Named the Change a Life Wonderland Tour in honour of Lewis Carroll’s fantasy novel, Alice in Wonderland, it will draw on the link between one of the book’s much-loved characters and the extinct Dodo bird that was endemic to Mauritius.

70 leading South African business, political and sporting personalities will participate in the challenging 500 km ride in sublime conditions which will include the exquisite azure sea and fine white sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean island.

Mauritius also offers visitors a mountainous interior that boasts a natural park with rainforests, waterfalls, hiking trails and native fauna such as the flying fox, and the experience of a cultural melting pot that fuses the past with the future.?

To learn more, please visit www.changealifecycle.co.za

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.

South Africa’s first Women in Law and Leadership Summit

Monday, August 31st, 2015

UPDATED: Please note that the 2-day event has been finalised and changed to a 1-day programme and will now take place on Sept 18 only.

UCTLaw@Work in partnership with the Centre for Integrative Law will be presenting South Africa’s first Women in Law & Leadership Summit: Finding New Ways for Women to Lead in Law this September (18th).

Vanessa has been invited to speak at the event and will be joining fellow panelists Sally Hutton and Janet Taylor-Hall for ‘Barrier Breakers: Inspirational Stories of Women Who Broke New Ground‘.

The summit has been structured as a much needed space in which women lawyers can be inspired, uplifted, supported and challenged.  It convenes preeminent women in law including law firm partners and associates, in-house counsel, advocates, NPO lawyers and academics open to sharing their stories. It is not a series of talks on “how I made partner.” Instead, we’ll be asking speakers to go a little deeper. This 1 day event is structured into panels and facilitated group discussions which include sessions on:

  • Do women lead differently from men? If so, how does this play out in the legal profession?
  • To close the pay gap you need to know your worth
  • Women who have broken new ground
  • Do we overvalue competence and undervalue confidence?
  • Managing career transitions in law
  • Developing your skills as a rainmaker

Panellists include:

  • Vanessa Lynch, Director of the DNA Project
  • Sally Hutton, Managing Partner, Webber Wentzel
  • Vivienne Lawack, Dep Vice Chancellor, UWC
  • Terry Winstanley, Director, DLACDH
  • Beverley Clark, Director, Clark Attorneys
  • Shelley Mackay-Davidson, Partner at The Bannister Group
  • Melanie Holderness, Advocate at the Cape Bar
  • Lerato Molefe, Attorney & Director of Naaya Consulting
  • Janet Taylor-Hall, owner of Cognia Law
  • Angela Simpson, Partner, Head of Talent Management, Webber Wentzel
  • Wendy Applebaum, Philanthropist and businesswoman
  • Robyn Hey, Director, HWD Attorneys
  • Candice Pillay, Director, Hogan Lovells

Date: Friday 18 September 2015

Venue: the River Club, Observatory

Cost:

Lawyers in private practice & In House Counsel: R1995

Public Service & NPO lawyers: R1595

Full Time Law Students: R500

Please enquire about group discounts

Email Enquiries: andrea.blaauw@uct.ac.za

To register through UCT’s Law@work Division: please click HERE

TO SEE THE PROGRAM FIRST: please click HERE

Email queries: andrea.blaauw@uct.ac.za

Website: www.integrativelaw.co.za

Angels’ Care Crisis Centre Opening Invitation

Monday, July 27th, 2015

On the 1st of July the Angels’ Care Centre opened its doors to their new Crisis Centre in Howick – which is aimed at helping children who are victims of gender-based violence, abuse and neglect and a project the DNAP was very proud to be involved in as one of their many sponsors.

The Centre has kindly extended an invitation for the official opening on Monday, 3 August, at 10.30am; which will include a tour of the Crisis Centre as well as a short speech.

For those who would like to attend, please kindly RSVP the Centre: info@angelscare.co.za or 033 3306837

INVITATION:

Date: 3 August 2015

Time: 10.30am

Venue: 38 Morling Street, Howick, KZN

SAPS Press conference on DNA legislation – Media invitation

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

MEDIA ALERT

SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE

To:     All media

SAPS NATIONAL COMMISSIONER PROVIDES PROGRESS ON DNA LEGISLATION

Pretoria 3 February 2015 – The Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act 37 of 2013 (the DNA Act) was finally passed into law on the 27th of January 2014.

The SAPS National Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega cordially invites the media to a press conference in which she will provide progress on DNA legislation and capacity in this regard, investigations and convictions on rape cases.

Date:               4 Feb 2015

Time:              9:30am for 10:00am

Venue:            GCIS Press Room, corner Frances Baard and Festival Streets, Hatfield

Highlights from ISHI25, Phoenix, Arizona and SFO, USA

Monday, 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

ISHI25 – International Symposium on Human Identification 2014

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The annual International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) conference, which is being held in Phoenix, Arizona in the US from Sept 29 – Oct 2, 2014, is an event that the DNA Project is very excited about as our founder Vanessa Lynch joins this year’s lineup of invited guest speakers.

The ISHI is an annual international conference for the DNA forensic community that provides the opportunity to learn, share and network amongst industry peers and experts.

Vanessa’s presentation on the 1st of October entitled “The DNA Project: The Crusade to Bring a National Forensic DNA Database to Fight Crime in South Africa” will include discussing the challenges in campaigning to pass the DNA Act in South Africa, some of its salient provisions and how she plans to continue to campaign for its effective implementation in conjunction with a national crime scene awareness programme driven by the DNA Project.

A map outlining the various delegates' hometowns.

Delegates from across the globe will be in attendance to listen to a wide range of topics presented by expert speakers across the 3-day conference. Topics such as:

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2

We hope to provide our followers with updates on all the happenings at the conference via Facebook and Twitter… so keep a watchful eye out!

We wish Vanessa a wonderful trip and the very best with her presentation =)

To learn more about the ISHI conference, please visit their website: http://ishinews.com/

Change a Life Masquerade Cycle Tour 2014

Friday, September 12th, 2014

The Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust, launched by Computershare in 2008, is one of the DNA Project’s most generous sponsors which is dedicated to a peaceful future for all South Africans.

Change a Life’s primary fundraiser is an annual Change a Life Cycle Tour and the 2014 Masquerade Cycle Tour, scheduled to take place from 13 to 18 September, promises to be one of their most dramatic tours yet.

In keeping with the exclusive luxury and pampering our high profile executive cyclists have become accustomed to, the 2014 tour is designed around the fabulous Rovos Rail – rated one of the world’s top 25 trains – which will provide quality accommodation and transport between the stages.

Without giving too much away, Change a Life confirms that the four day 500 km cycle tour starting in the beautiful Western Cape will more than fulfil their participants’ expectations of an extreme challenge, while the après cycle experiences will be filled with all the drama and intrigue of a masquerade ball.

We wish all of the participants a wonderful and enjoyable ride!