The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today written to the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, requesting the urgent prioritisation of the tabling of the Draft Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Bill. This piece of legislation presents an immediate step that can be taken in our fight against Gender Based Violence in South Africa, by providing the mechanisms needed to ensure repeat offenders are incarcerated speedily and effectively.
This Draft Bill will allow for DNA samples to continue to be taken from offenders convicted in terms of Schedule 8 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which includes sexual offenders. This would ensure that SAPS is able to speedily identify any repeat offences should these individuals be released back into society. There are currently no DNA samples recorded for over 46 000 convicted Schedule 8 offenders.
All that is required for the Bill to be gazetted and introduced in Parliament is the Minister’s signature since 2017. The Minister of Police has stated that he first wishes to gather DNA samples from all South African citizens – a step which is both unconstitutional in nature and is wholly unnecessary for the tabling of this Bill. It is also a completely unaffordable exercise, and the Civilian Secretariat has acknowledged both these concerns.
According to the South African Constitution, Section 10, “everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected” and Section 12(2)b and c, “to security in and control over their body; and (c) not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their informed consent”. Furthermore, Section 14(a) stipulates that “everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have — (a) their person or home searched”.
The DA is deeply troubled over the constitutionality of Minister Cele’s unnecessary proposals. While national government drags its feet on this issue, potential repeat offenders are being released back into society, while SAPS remains with no means of tracking whether these individuals are repeating the offences they were originally convicted of.
The introduction of this Bill will add impetus to our fight against Gender Based Violence. It will ensure that the time needed to convict a repeat offender is minimised, thereby serving justice to victims faster and more efficiently, while freeing up resources for SAPS to pursue more cases and convict more felons.