DNA Bill Signed into Law

The Presidency

President Zuma has signed the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill into law.

Parliament passed the bill in November 2013.

The bill was tabled in May 2013. Cabinet approved the Bill in April for tabling in parliament.

The NCOP had sent the bill back to the NA to consider proposed amendments.

Four technical amendments had been proposed.

They referred to clause 15V which deals with the establishment and composition of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board.

According to the cabinet statement issued last year, the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act aims to promote the use of DNA in crime-fighting efforts. It will also regulate how this is done, taking constitutional requirements into account.

"The use of DNA evidence holds the potential to alleviate blockages in the criminal justice system".

The act amends the South African Police Service (SAPS) Act in order to set up the national forensic DNA database.

Amendments are also proposed for the Firearms Control Act and the Explosives Act.

A single bill was originally tabled in parliament in 2009.

However, the police committee decided to only deal with the fingerprint part of the bill. This was subsequently passed into law.

A separate DNA bill was then drafted.

In an earlier statement, the police committee’s chairperson, Ms Annelize van Wyk, acknowledged that the proposed legislation would not prevent crime from occurring but would help to boost the fight against crime.

The act calls for the taking of certain bodily samples from certain categories of persons in order to undertake forensic DNA analysis.

It also allows for forensic DNA profiles to be used in crime investigation and court proceedings.

Speaking in 2013 in the national assembly, the police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, asserted that the bill will strengthen the fight against crime.

“We remain confident that this legislation will support our strategic objective of contributing to the successful prosecutions of crimes through thorough investigations, thereby increasing the detection rate of priority crimes, particularly crimes against women, children and the elderly”.

The minister added that an implementation plan had been developed in parallel with the bill. The skills level within the SAPS will also be enhanced to improve crime scene investigations.

Sabinet Cape Town Office

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