Some 96 785 violent convicted criminals (schedule eight offenders) have been released on parole since 2016, without submitting DNA samples.
Civil rights organisation Action Society’s said its attorneys have sent a letter to the Presidency and leaders in the security cluster demanding the urgent implementation of the Forensics Procedures Amendment Act.
The Act forces convicted Schedule eight offenders, which includes murderers and rapists, to submit a cheek swab DNA sample for the population of the National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD) of South Africa.
But since its creation in 2015, this Amendment Act has still not been finalised because President Cyril Ramaphosa is yet to sign the bill.
“The president and the minister of police, are failing to protect the citizens of South Africa,” says Action Society’s Elanie van der Walt.
“A crucial part of the criminal justice system is not being applied, due to the lack of resolve from government to implement the law,” Van der Walt added.
The civil rights organisation has since sent a letter to the presidency on 20 August this year and is giving the president and ministers 30 days to comply with their listed demands.
These demands include that the president issue a proclamation fully implementing the Forensics Procedure Act.
“If we do not receive any feedback by the deadline date of 20 September 2021, 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,” said Van der Walf.
The NFDD is an essential and effective weapon in the fight against crime. It enhances polices’ ability to identify criminals and provides considerable assistance to prosecuting authorities.
Now, governments failure 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 – effectively allowing convicted criminals to walk free without submitting buccal DNA samples,” explained Van der Walt.
There’s concerns that repeat offenders will get away with committing violent crimes again because there are no DNA samples linking them to their prior offenses.
DNA remains the most effective tool in linking 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,” said Van der Walt.