26 September 2023

SOUTH AFRICA: Forensic backlog stalling crime fight

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South Africa’s Public Service Commission (PSC) says it is concerned at significant backlogs in the police’s forensic laboratories.

The PSC said this was having an effect on the handling of criminal cases, particularly those involving gender-based violence (GBV).

It revealed the problem in the release of its quarterly Public Service Bulletin.

PSC Commissioner, Anele Gxoyiya said the number of GBV-related crimes was a scourge on the country that had dramatically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Delays in the processing and analysis of case exhibits, allowing possible repeat offences leading to a failure in the fight against these crimes, cannot be tolerated,” Mr Gxoyiya said.

“The total national backlog stood at 10,609 case exhibits during the 2018-19 financial year. The backlog is now 308,186.”

He said this led to delays in cases going to trial and lengthy times when defendants were either out on remand, or innocent people being detained for lengthy periods.

Mr Gxoyiya said the Commission had visited the various laboratories around the country to assess their effectiveness and efficiency.

“The main problems are associated with a shortage of technical staff and the procurement of equipment,” he said.

“The condition of the accommodation at some of these labs leaves a lot to be desired.”

Pretoria, 30 June 2023

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