Government wants to ‘track’ all South Africans from birth – here’s why

The Civilian Secretariat for Police provided an update on a number of proposed pieces of legislation it is considering to parliament this week, including a new bill which could allow for the tracking of South Africans from birth in an effort to help combat crime.

The Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act came into operation in January 2015 and provides for, among other things, the taking of buccal samples – a sample of a person’s saliva taken from the person’s mouth – from all convicted Schedule 8 offenders for the purposes of forensic DNA analysis.

The purpose of the updated bill is to strengthen this legislation for criminal investigations and ensure the prosecution of repeat offenders.

However, the bill was put on hold pending a proposal to the minister of Home Affairs to investigate the feasibility of the extension of buccal sampling to all citizens in the country and not just criminals.

“The proposal of taking of buccal samples from all citizens of the country, including infants at birth, falls within the exclusive mandate of Home Affairs,” the Civilian Secretariat for Police said.

The group said that the samples would be used in a similar process to that of a finger-printing process which is currently used for:

  • Identification purposes as well as the detection of crime;
  • Investigation of an offence;
  • Identification of  missing persons;
  • The identification of unidentified human remains or the conducting of a prosecution.

The Civilian Secretariat for Police said that the DNA samples could be checked against the databases of the Department of Home Affairs, Department of Transport or any department or state in the national sphere of government, but that this would require empowering legislation from both Home Affairs and the SAPS.

“The proposal is informed by the high levels of crime in the country and the urgent need to strengthen South Africa’s crime-fighting capacity in order to effectively fight crime and convict criminals,” it said.

However, the Civilian Secretariat for Police said that the bill currently remains in limbo as it is still awaiting a response from the minister of Home Affairs.

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Government wants to ‘track’ all South Africans from birth – here’s why