Sunday World

DNA backlog an injustice to women

- Ian Cameron By email

Action Society congratula­tes and supports Amnesty Internatio­nal South Africa in taking on minister Bheki Cele and the police department about the DNA backlog in South Africa related to gender-based violence (GBV).

Cele said in March, the DNA backlog would be caught up within six months. Yet, nothing has come of that.

According to the official police reports to the Parliament­ary Committee for Police, the backlog stood at more than 150000 in June and grew to more than 180000 in July.

According to the SAPS’S latest crime statistics, five women are raped in South Africa every hour – 120 per day. If we work with an average of four pieces of evidence per case, that’s 720 000 tests in the backlog. Now add 14 200 pieces of evidence in rape cases per month and you can see why the police are losing the battle to get justice for GBV victims.

The recent sentencing of Jacob Kgatlane, 41-year-old North West serial rapist who raped 15 women, emphasised the importance of DNA evidence. Sergeant Clifford Mokone highlighte­d that “… we did not know we were dealing with a serial rapist, until the DNA evidence”.

Six of the victims raped by Kgatlane were younger than 18. The youngest was a 14-year-old schoolgirl and the oldest was 37. He was sentenced to six life terms, with two of the sentences expected to run concurrent­ly.

He also received 150 years’ imprisonme­nt for 15 charges, including robbery, kidnapping, attempted rape and rape. Without DNA evidence this serial rapist would probably still roam the streets.

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