Have you sent in your comments to Parliament re the new DNA Bill?

If you have not yet sent in your submission to Parliament in respect of the new DNA Bill, I appeal to you to please take some time out of your day this week to do so. The closing date for submissions is this Friday, 23 October 2009.  The adoption of the Bill requires public submissions, and lots of them, commenting on the Bill – and it is here that we really can all take a stand. Please ask as many people as possible to do the same.

The Portfolio Committee for Police, which has been tasked with reviewing the new DNA legislation has to consider every email sent to them, so this is one email that will not be lost in ‘Government Cyberspace’.

All submissions must be emailed to the secretary to the Portfolio Committee of Police (National Assembly), Mr. Jeremy Michaels  jmichaels@parliament.gov.za commenting on any aspect of the Bill or generally why you believe the Bill should be passed and / or whether you have any issues with respect to the Bill which you believe they should consider.

The Official Name of the DNA Bill is the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill . A copy of the Bill can be accessed on www.pmg.org.za

This is one letter sent to the Portfolio Committee of Police, by a Police Reservist, which is worth reading:

“Dear Mr Michaels

I write this not only as a very concerned and very patriotic citizen of our wonderful South Africa, but also as a Police Reservist.

I joined the Police Reservists in a desperate bid to make an impact on the state of crime in our country.
I have however been disappointed… disappointed by the lack of success I have seen.

After working 30+ hours per month for more than a year, along with 20+ other Reservists in the Kempton Park area, we have not caught any serious criminals whatsoever between us. This is because we are relying on late information filtering through the Response control room (normally after the criminals have fled the crime scene), or pure chance in encountering a criminal (e.g. during stop-and-search operations, roadblocks, patrols). I have now come to regard each Police shift as somewhat like fishing – “Perhaps tonight we will be lucky, and catch a big one!!” . I place the emphasis on the word “lucky”…

Let’s face it – the current methods of fighting crime are not working.  The Police rely largely on a combination of luck and informants.  Often suspects are only caught through:
·         apprehension during leaving the crime scene (where the “luck” part comes into play – a distress call is made at the right time, and relayed to a Police vehicle that happens to be in the right vicinity, or Police happen to stumble upon a vehicle/ person acting suspiciously), or
·         informants,
·         and then the task of linking the suspects to a crime scene – usually possession of stolen items, identity parades, fingerprints, or DNA.

I feel that in most cases, this forensic element only comes into effect retrospectively, in convicting of the suspects – but only once the suspects are made available through the above means.  Not enough is done by forensics in a proactive manner – such that forensic evidence actually leads to the apprehension of the suspects.

The only way this country is going to make a serious and speedy dent on crime is through doing something different.  That difference, in my opinion, lies in forensics and technology.

Through studying of statistics presented in the media and through Police intelligence, I have come to realise that crime (and in particular serious crime) is committed by a very small group of terrorists.  This small group of terrorists is holding our country ransom – pushing our fences higher, keeping us indoors on sunny days and warm nights, driving the brain drain, frightening off investment, and taking innocent lives, leaving a trail of fear, heartache and despair.
The statistics will have us believe that each serious offender commits > 100 crimes before being caught, spanning a career of > 7 years each.

We need tools to round up such a criminal, and cut this career short.  We need to be proactive.

By approving a DNA database, as well as opening up more fingerprint records, I believe it will be possible to have a substantial tool to track down offenders after even their first crime.

Questions have been raised relating to privacy violations of founding such a database.  I would ask how someone’s privacy is being violated by a series of DNA bars and a fingerprint logged against your name?  Such records are in any case held by a range of State institutions (driver’s licence administration, Home Affairs), doctors, etc. anyway, in much the same way my bank holds records of my (and millions of others’) name, address, income, employer, and even photo and signature.  Why should a legitimate State entity also not be entitled to hold my uninteresting finger print, or DNA profile?  If a person is prepared to commit crime, then surely the question of violating of their rights to privacy of this information should come into immediate question?

Even as a law-abiding citizen, I would gladly offer my DNA profile and fingerprints to such a database.  And as law-abiding citizens, surely we should own a voice in setting the laws of this land when it comes to addressing our crime crisis?

We are in a crisis.  We need urgent measures.  And we need them now.

I therefore appeal to you to do whatever is necessary to allow such a Revision to pass into law.”

The question I ask you is, how do you feel about the adoption of the new DNA Bill?

PLEASE – make yourself heard,


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