National forensics expert Dr Paul Stefan Ludik says that it would cost the country about N$36 million per annum for the next three years to clear the backlog of DNA cases at the institute. Ludik was speaking at the National Forensic Science Institute of Namibia (NSFI) where the inspector general of the Namibian Police, Sebastian Ndeitunga, was having an engagement with staff at the institute almost a year after the new building was inaugurated.
Ludik said the country is looking at a backlog of about 4 300 DNA-related cases and will need to secure funding to complete it.
"If we secure funding of about N$36 million per annum for the next three years, we would have eradicated the entire backlog," he said. He emphasised that in addition to the backlog, there are still current DNA cases that the institute has to investigate. He, however, said that there is no delay in that regard.
Ludik noted that in spite of its (DNA) introduction to the legal framework of investigations around the early 2000s, many organisations have fallen short in terms of budgeting for their operations.
"DNA is simply a costly exercise. Everything consumes a lot of money from the budget but in a nutshell DNA requires a lot more expenditure."
This was echoed by Ndeitunga who said that underbudgeting is an issue to be looked at.
"Sometimes we cannot be blamed like Dr Ludik said. Sometimes we lack resources which makes us question whether we are underbudgeting ourselves," he added. Ndeitunga, however, admitted that when there is an issue of being underbudgeted they do have to blame themselves. Furthermore, Ndeitunga said this creates a domino effect as it oversteps into the functionality of connected departments of permeating justice.
"It is disheartening to see several cases hundreds of times because the lab has not finalised those samples. This delays the prosecution process leaving the prosecutors frustrated because they are forced to postpone cases," he said. The main issue though, Ndeitunga mentioned, was financing.
"Our main source of funding is from the government. It is very rare that we get our resources from somewhere else. But we are also asking relevant stakeholders to assist where they can," he added.
Commissioner to the NSFI Nelius Becker suggested that the institution can look at leasing expensive equipment in light of financial concerns.
"It is easier to lease rather than going through the process of procurement because when the equipment gets old, it can be replaced and updated," Becker said.