Gqeberha forensic lab revamp ‘completed on time, within budget’

Sunday, April 2, 2023

The Portfolio Committee on Police has commended the revamp done at the North End Forensic Science Laboratory in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape.

The committee believes that the laboratory will add the necessary energy to the fight against gender-based violence (GBV) and other violent crimes.

The committee last week visited the R84 million state-of-the-art laboratory and highlighted the importance of good administration to improve the DNA and other scientific analyses that are central to improving conviction rates.

“We are of the view that the model used to revamp the property to international standard should be replicated across the entire State apparatus.

“Also, the completion of the project within 18 months of the planned 24 months attests to the benefits of good project management,” said the chairperson of the committee, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

The team also welcomed the assurance that despite the upgrades, docket analysis completion rates exceeded targets.

“This is positive in the context of the drive to fight GBV and violent crimes, which has such a devastating effect on both South Africa’s social and economic outlook. Convictions depend on watertight cases that are scientific, evidence-based and timely,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

The committee also welcomed improved efficiency within the South African Police Service (SAPS) supply chain management, which has resulted in the renewal of contracts and the procurement of consumables and reagents.

“Furthermore, the committee welcomed the intention to have supplier open days to enable the SAPS to broaden its supplier database, especially in areas where there is a dependence on one or two suppliers.”

Boosting CPFs

The group also interacted with community policing forums (CPFs), where members raised concerns about the lack of adequate resources necessary to augment SAPS policing work.

“There was a call for SAPS at local and district level to open and improve communication channels between SAPS and CPFs to ensure better collaboration,” the committee said.

CPFs highlighted the need for improved training from accredited bodies to ensure personal development and better implementation of their role and responsibility.

“The committee remains of the view that CPFs play a critical role in the fight against crime and better resourcing of this critical environment will serve to enhance policing in general.”

The committee has requested that the SAPS, the Eastern Cape Department of Community Safety and the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service send detailed responses with solutions to the challenges raised by CPF members.

Further, the team stressed its displeasure that the SAPS Amendment Bill has not been tabled in Parliament for consideration to ensure that the legislation governing the policing environment is responsive to current challenges.

The committee also visited the New Brighton Police Station in Gqeberha, which is among 30 police stations around the country with the highest murder rates. –