Battle to clear forensic backlog

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

South Africa's crime labs are still struggling to process a backlog of more than 6 000 samples needed for criminal and other investigations.

Charles Nqakula, safety and security minister, pictured, released the figures in parliament yesterday in answer to a written question.

He also said his department was unable to give statistics on the number of children younger than 12 who had been raped in South Africa because the figures were too time-consuming to gather.

Nqakula stated in a written reply to a question that there was a backlog of 6 086 samples in forensic laboratories nationwide.

But he did note there were no backlogs for explosives or ballistics.

The Western Cape had one of the highest backlogs, with 3 806 samples, followed by the head office in Pretoria with 1 057 samples.

The Democratic Alliance's Dianne Kohler-Barnard said yesterday that this was a matter for concern.

She said it was taking 102 days to get the results of a biology sample, with the shortest waiting period 35 days.

Kohler-Barnard said she would be asking the justice department how many cases had been dropped, struck off the roll or withdrawn because of delays at the laboratories.