Invitation to the founding meeting for Forensic Science Academy

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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


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).


  • Please RSVP to the following email address: – 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 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!


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.


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 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.


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.

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

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