New DNA database planned for South Africa

 ·15 Jul 2022

The Department of Police published the proposed Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill for public comment in June, with the deadline set to close on Friday (15 July).

The bill’s primary objective is to contribute toward the population of a forensic DNA database provided for in the Act and maintained by the South African Police Service.

It is expected that having a robust DNA database will assist in both conducting forensic investigations and helping find suspects in solved crimes.

The department said that collecting buccal samples is especially crucial as many convicted of violent crimes are usually repeat offenders.

Under the planned law, DNA samples will be taken from all offenders convicted of ‘schedule 8’ offences, including:

  • Murder;
  • Rape;
  • Sexual offences;
  • Robbery;
  • Human trafficking.

“The successful prosecution and conviction of repeat offenders is essential in reducing high crime rates and protecting members of society, mostly women and children, who are vulnerable to being victims of crimes perpetrated by such offenders,” the department said.

The bill has largely been welcomed by opposition parties and is expected to help address South Africa crime rates – some of the world’s highest.

The latest crime data published by the SAPS at the start of June shows South Africa’s crime rate jumped significantly between January – March 2022. Total reported crimes during the period increased significantly, both as a result of reported crimes, and a jump in the number of crimes detected through police activity.

Contact crimes, including assault and sexual offences, saw a jump of 15%, with violent crimes like murder, assault and sexual offences also recording double-digit growth.

According to the SAPS, 6,083 people were murdered over the quarter (up 22%) – the equivalent of 68 people a day – the highest number recorded over this quarter in the last five years. Attempted murders were up 25%, with the SAPS tracking 5,717 cases.

Across most violent crime categories, the stats for the quarter are the worst they have been for the same period over the last five years.

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