New law aims to track all South Africans using DNA, from birth

Government has delayed its submission of the new Criminal Law Amendment Bill to parliament as it considers the logistics of placing all citizens on a national registry.

First announced in 2017, the bill provides for the taking of specified bodily samples (buccal samples) from schedule 8 offenders for forensic deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis.

The DNA profiles are then stored in the National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD).

The purpose of the legislation is to strengthen criminal investigation and ensure the prosecution of repeat offenders.

Responding in a recent parliamentary Q&A session, minister of police Bheki Cele said that he had requested that the bill be put on hold to ‘allow a process to investigate the possibility of all citizens of the country to be buccal sampled, including infants at birth, for identification purposes’.

These buccal samples would then, within the amended legal framework, be used for comparison during forensic criminal investigations, he said.

“For this purpose, I have sent a letter to the then Minister of Home Affairs Dr Siyabonga Cwele, to request the minister to consider the proposal of extending the buccal sampling requirement to all citizens of the country since the matter falls within the exclusive mandate of the Department of Home Affairs as the lead department in the registration of births and identification of citizens and non-citizens of the country.

“This letter was sent to the minister of Home Affairs on 14 November 2019.”

He added that the date on which the bill will be submitted to parliament cannot be confirmed yet as the two departments continue to consider the above proposal.


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New law aims to track all South Africans using DNA, from birth