NATIONAL NEWS - Action Society’s claim that R250 million allocated to the SA Police Services (SAPS) was spent on procurement instead of on reducing the DNA forensic backlog was vehemently denied by police yesterday.
Action Society spokesperson Dr Rineé Pretorius said: “South Africans need to know what the current state of affairs is, since PCEM [Property Control and Exhibit Management System] impacts the processing of all evidence, not just DNA.
“For the interim, the police depend on a manual system, jeopardising all evidence because the recording of any handover processes are being handled by means of a paper register.
“There is no electronic way to confirm and ensure the chain of evidence is not broken.”
But SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo rubbished the allegation, saying details of a functioning system would be disclosed closer to the time.
“The R250 million was allocated for the procurement of consumables for the DNA testing and this had no bearing on the PCEM system which was shut down,” Naidoo said.
“The details of the functioning/operation of the FEM system will be made available later.”
Criminal defence lawyer Ulrich Roux said if there was one missing link in a chain of evidence, theoretically charges could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt by the state.
“It must be proven beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution,” Roux said.
A dispute over costs and non-payment between the SAPS and Forensic Data Analysts, the evidence tracking system for the entire police’s Forensic Science Laboratory, that managed all evidence, including the Property Control and Exhibit Management System, caused the shutdown of the system in June last year.
“In a country with a rape conviction rate of 7.8% we cannot accept that, for a negotiating period of over two years, government has put a price tag on an IT system needed to manage crucial evidence.
“How can the government allow for a working system to be switched off when no other plan is in place?” Pretorius asked.