Action Society instructed its attorneys who have sent a letter to the Presidency, the Commissioner of Police, National Minister of Police and the Commissioner of Correctional Services, to demand the urgent implementation of the Forensics Procedures Amendment Act that facilitates the creation and maintenance of a Convicted Offender Index in the National Forensic DNA Database of South Africa. (NFDD).
The Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act 37 of 2013 (Forensic Procedures Act), forces convicted Schedule 8 offenders (this includes murderers and rapists) to submit a buccal DNA sample for the population of the National Forensic DNA Database of South Africa. (NFDD). Since the creation of the NFDD in 2015 however, this Amendment Act has still not been finalised and is still awaiting the president’s signature.
“The President and the National Minister of Police, are failing to protect the citizens of South Africa and are infringing on their constitutional rights. A crucial part of the criminal justice system is not being applied, due to the lack of resolve from government to implement the law,” says Elanie van der Walt, spokesperson for Action Society.
The civil rights organisation has given government 30 days (from 23 August 2021) to comply with their listed demands. These demands include that the president issue a proclamation fully implementing the Forensics Procedure Act. If they do not receive any response Action Society will proceed with legal action against the government including a declaration of rights in terms of Section 38 of the Constitution, from the Constitutional Court.
In 2019/2020 a total number of 3 193 murderers were convicted and of these, only 770 have submitted a buccal DNA sample. Despite the obvious fact that a NFDD is an essential and effective weapon in the fight against crime, enhancing the ability of the SAPS to identify criminals and providing considerable assistance to the prosecuting authorities ̶ this crucial element is being neglected by government. The failure of government to apply and implement the law is allowing thousands of convicted murderers and rapists to walk free without being able to link them to past or future crimes.
“We simply cannot accept that the president has not approved this amendment allowing convicted criminals to walk free without submitting a buccal DNA sample and remain undetected to rape or murder again. DNA is the most effective tool to link perpetrators to cold cases and to facilitate future prosecutions for re-offenders. In a country where 3 335 women are raped and 1 667 people murdered every month, the president and the South African Police Services should be held accountable for not implementing this act ages ago,” van der Walt concludes.