21 November 2012

South Africa: Forensic Science Labs to Receive 800 Forensic Analysts

Pretoria — Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says at least 800 forensic analysts are to be employed within the current financial year to capacitate the country's Forensic Science Laboratories.

He was responding to a Parliamentary question on how many cases were brought to the South African Police Service (SAPS) Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL) from 2009 to date and how many are still outstanding in respect of each of these years.

In 2009/10, 207 660 entries were received at the SAPS FSL. In 2010/11 the number of entries received increased by 26 percent to 260 826.

"The number of entries received in 2011/12 increased by an additional 23% to 320 729. Between 1 April and 30 September 2012, they received 209 431 entries, which is a 67% increase in comparison to the same period in the previous financial year," Mthethwa said.

The substantial increase in the number of exhibits submitted to the FSL since 1 April 2009 to date is evident of the increased confidence that the investigating officers have in the ability of the forensic services to contribute to the investigation of crime and bring perpetrators to book.

"The increase in the number of cases presented to the FSL will be addressed through the employment of additional 800 forensic analysts within the current financial year," he said.

The minister said one of the fundamental components of the criminal justice system was ensuring that the evidence that is presented before a court of law is accurate and can enable police to secure convictions.

He said central to the collection and analysis of such evidence, is ensuring that the SAPS forensic science laboratories are effectively capacitated and effective.

Mthethwa highlighted that over the past few years, there were unsatisfactory reports around how courts could not finalise cases on the court roll, including the reasons for postponement of cases in criminal courts and all these were attributed to the forensic delays.

"However, we are now beginning to experience a positive turn-around strategy. What becomes important is to ensure that we sustain these best practices, continue to capacitate this division and ensure that it continues to become an additional arsenal in the fight against crime," he said.

He said as the police leadership, they were encouraged by the progress attained thus far.

"This progress can, inter alia, be attributed to the modernised systems, coupled with adequately-equipped human capital which ultimately resulted in improved turn-around time in terms of processing forensic case work," he said.

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