DNA backlog to be cleared in 6 months, says Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Michele Spatari / AFP

Police Minister Bheki Cele says the DNA backlog at Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL) is expected to be cleared in six months.

Cele was speaking to journalists on Thursday following a visit to various KwaZulu-Natal police stations as part of the Ministers and Members of Executive Council activities.

Cele said progress had been made at two of the country’s biggest DNA FSLs in Cape Town and Pretoria.

He said:

A lot has been done at both labs especially in Cape Town which is the biggest. All machines are working, 20 extra staff has been called in; we are not working eight-hour shifts we are working 16-hour shifts. We would’ve loved to work 24 hours but they said the machines need to rest before we get to the next shift.

He added they were reducing the outstanding backlog and was almost done with it.

“We had given ourselves 18 months to address the backlog; the staff has given us six months, they anticipate the backlog to be resolved.”

The police made a commitment last year it would vow to clamp down on gender-based violence cases and address the crippling forensic backlog of DNA samples which has been delaying justice for victims of violent crime.

READ | DNA backlog to be cleared within 3 to 6 months, says Western Cape police commissioner

By September 2021, the backlog exceeded 240 000 cases.

At the time, Cele said Pretoria had a backlog of 137 849 DNA tests while the figure for the Western Cape stood at 83 292.

On Thursday, Cele visited 10 police stations in KZN as part of the Police Station Focus approach.

He said the stations were in the top 30 of the most crime-ridden areas in the country.

“We will consolidate all the information of what we found at these police stations. We will be having a meeting with the police management on Friday to get a better understanding of what we can monitor from our side.”