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Backlog with DNA tests could very well get worse

(Debate in parliament)

In February this year, the backlog with crime-related DNA tests in the police service already stood at 172 787 and the problem could very well be exacerbated by a lawsuit regarding the intellectual property rights of the system used in conducting the DNA tests.

According to the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, one of the main causes of the initial backlog is that there were not enough chemical agents available for the police's respective forensic laboratories to carry out the tests.

The other main cause is the problem with the electronic management system of the company Forensic Data Analysts (FDA). As result of a financial dispute with the police, the FDA has refused to let the police service use its technology and information technology systems for conducting DNA and ballistic tests.

The utilisation of the FDA's systems was terminated in June last year after nine court cases relating to the intellectual property rights of the system. The police lost all those cases. Even the Constitutional Court found in favour of the FDA.

There seems to be a new digital DNA system that the government's Information technology Agency (Sita) designed and that has been in use since the 6th of April with the aim of remedying the situation and eradicating the backlog.

The reality, however, is that the FDA brought a new court application today due to the allegation that Sita is still using the FDA's intellectual property for its digital system.

It is quite possible that a court order could put an end to the use of Sita's system, which will take the problem back to square one.

This is happening at the expense of crime victims in South Africa. Moreover, the discord between the Police commissioner, Gen. Khehla Sitole, and Minister Cele must be resolved as soon as possible.

Likewise, the ANC must resolve its internal faction fights so that the government can focus all its attention on governing South Africa. The only ones benefiting from the present chaos are criminals.

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