The meeting commenced with a presentation from South African Police Service (SAPS) on its implementation plan for the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill, which included DNA samples. It aimed to address the concerns of the Committee raised in the last meeting, which included some of the costs as well as well as the current state of readiness and issues surrounding the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) system. The presentation began with an implementation plan and addressed the identification of authorised persons by ensuring that all authorised persons would be given an identification tag. It was noted that officers would be trained in proper sample taking beginning with detectives in the first year and eventually over time all officers would be trained. SAPS gave the figure of testing 650 000 persons per year at a cost of R80 million. As requested by the Committee, the SAPS presentation broke its steps down into short, medium and long term columns to better demonstrate the intended time lines.
SAPS outlined the process for buccal sample taking and noted the persons who would be subject to sampling – those persons included those under arrest for Schedule 1 offences, persons released on bail, persons for whom a summons had been served in relation to a Schedule 1 offence, anyone convicted by the court and all those on the National Register for Sex Offenders.
The Chairperson interjected at this point and asked SAPS to get to the monetary figures.
The SAPS delegation continued by explaining the buccal sample-taking process in detail. After the successful taking of the sample it was sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) where it was analyzed and catalogued. At FSL it was run through a comparative search to see if any results had been found. SAPS noted that familial searching was done in cases of serial violent rape, serial murder or unidentified remains and missing persons. These processes all could uncover leads which would be used by investigators. A section of the presentation focused on cooperation with international DNA databases so that comparative searches would be done in international databases to uncover any leads. South Africa would contribute to these international databases.
SAPS addressed the expunging of information, which was a previous concern of the Committee. It was noted that no expunging process was currently in place but that it was being developed. Information would be expunged in cases in which the accused was found innocent or the case was dropped. The information of voluntary submissions would be expunged once their purpose had been served.
The SAPS delegation presented expected costs and time frames, they revealed the formation of a Steering Committee which was to be established by 31 July. This Steering Committee was to meet on a monthly basis to discuss and evaluate progress. By September 2013, SAPS intended to have a better understanding of the scope of the integrated booking system, this would enable SAPS to implement an individual identification number process. SAPS noted that the current plan used many systems that were all ready in place, but these systems would require much customization which took a good deal of time. The plan stated that the purchase and installation of barcode scanners would be completed by June 2014 and that it was a major part of the implementation process.
SAPS noted the importance of the new systems ability to support the National Register for Sex Offenders. The presentation mentioned that the old system processes were tangled and in order for SAPS to process the volumes they intended, the processes would have to be untangled. The SAPS delegation went through the tables which demonstrated the costs of each step, as per the request of the Committee.
The next part of the SAPS presentation was the determination of which system to use. It was noted that SAPS was on the verge of signing an agreement with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to use the CODIS system. SAPS stated that the decision to be made was whether to use CODIS or a homegrown system entitled SOLVE. A comparative assessment would be done, although it was admitted that they were leaning towards CODIS because it was the choice of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).
During the discussion, many Committee members expressed their frustration with the information presented, including the fact that a Steering Committee was only being established now. Members noted the inconsistency in the figures being given in that some costs were estimates rather than firm numbers, much to the dismay of the Committee. Members asked for firm total costs as well as the annual expenditures of the implementation. Members expressed concern with the fact that previously raised questions were still not being addressed and they noted that they would not pass a Bill as vague as the one presented by SAPS.
The Chairperson was in agreement with the rest of the Committee and expressed much frustration. The accusation was made that SAPS was attempting to confuse the Committee, but the Chairperson assured SAPS that this method would not work as they were willing to wait and learn. The Chairperson continued questioning by asking about some of the figures presented including the R25 million per annum, how long would this go on? Many questions were asked in regard to the vagueness of the costs.
The SAPS delegation stated that the Steering Committee was only being formed now as this was the decision made. This statement was met with skepticism and frustration from the Members. It was noted that SAPS had come to the realization from the morning’s questions that a total cost was needed.
The Chairperson pointed out that having a total cost was the reason that SAPS had been asked back after their last presentation. SAPS was requested to come back with a total cost that afternoon.
SAPS responded on the time line it would take for implementation as well as the limitations of the systems while the implementation process was ongoing. The Committee noted that with this information they would be able to add provisions in the transitional arrangements to address such things. On the training of officers, SAPS noted that training would be prioritized at a rate of 20 000 officers per annum.
The Committee expressed their concern throughout the meeting with the lack of a concrete total cost. They believed that their skepticism was well founded because SAPS had broken promises in the past. A concern was raised about why the SOLVE system was even being considered as CODIS had been tested and widely used and was the choice of SITA. It was suggested that SOLVE was only being looked at by the IT department because of previous promises made in past contracts.
The SAPS delegation requested to defer some cost related questions until after lunch when they would have a better cost breakdown to work with. This request was met with a large amount of skepticism from the Committee. The decision was made that the Committee would sit down and write a list of specific questions for SAPS so that they would be able to have official answers on record. The overall sentiment emerging from the Members in regards to the SAPS presentation was that of disappointment and frustration.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) presented its part in the implementation process of the Bill, the presentation put a heavy focus on the dealing with backlogging in the system and the methods they would use to combat this. It was noted that the DCS was working in collaboration with other bodies to find the most appropriate ways to go about vanquishing backlogging as well as training to do so. After explaining the implementation from the DCS perspective, it was estimated that all inmates could be processed within 12-18 months.
The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) was called upon to explain its training plan for SAP officials. The scope and function of NHLS was outlined as well as its track record of success. The NHLS would train groups of 20 at venues located within 150 kilometers of a police station. The training would cover background information, how to prepare a workstation, filling out the paper work, taking of the actual sample, as well as an assessment test at the end of training. It addressed the Committee's concern about those who fail the assessment by stating that they would be retested because the process was about understanding.
At the beginning of the afternoon session (see next report), the Chairperson noted that the time allotted for SITA and SAPS to bring back a total cost figure was insufficient and they would require more time. The Committee then began deliberations on the Bill with the SAPS legal drafters, the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, the Parliamentary Law Advisers and the Civilian Secretariat for Police.
The Chairperson apologised for being late and requested that the South African Police Service (SAPS) delegation begin their presentation noting that she was hopeful that progress had been made since the last meeting and that the requests of the Committee had been taken into consideration.
Status/Timeframes/Costs of Information Technology in Support of Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill and Business Plan of the Main Drivers to Support DNA Bill
Lieutenant General Bonginkosi Solomon Ngubane, Divisional Commissioner of Technology Management Services, stated that the purpose of the presentation was to accommodate the previous requests of the Committee to return with a clearer presentation. He noted that these requests had been taken into consideration including an explanation of the background plan to implementation as well as their current state of readiness. He mentioned that the issue of using the CODIS system would be addressed later in the presentation. Teams had been mobilized on the ground in support of this Bill and were ready to begin work. Lt Gen Ngubane asked Major General Adeling Shezi to continue the presentation.
Major-General Adeline Shezi, Head: Quality, Forensic Division, SAPS, reiterated Lt Gen Ngubane's statement that this presentation addressed the suggestions made by the Committee and that the issue of who would take DNA samples had been added to the presentation. She bagan the slideshow presentation by focusing on the implementation plan. A revised training plan had been made by SAPS in collaboration with NHLS and would be presented later. SAPS had addressed the identification of authorized persons, as raised by the Committee, by ensuring that all authorized people would be required to wear a identification tag that would become part of the dress code. The intention was to have all officers trained in proper sample taking, but the training would begin with detectives as a priority. All Department of Correctional Services (DCS) nurses would received this training. The training rate would be 20 000 persons per annum, beginning with priority training (detectives).
Gen Shezi went on to present some of the estimated costs in implementation as demonstrated in the Business Plan of the Main Drivers to Support DNA Bill (July 2013). It was estimated that there would be 650 000 samples taken per year and that the annual cost of this process would be R80 million. The table provided short term, medium term, long term columns which better demonstrated the intended time line of the project, as requested by the Committee.
Lt Gen Ngubane explained in detail the process of taking buccal samples. These would be taken for all arrests in relation to Schedule 1 offences, persons released on bail (who had no sample taken at time of arrest), summons served for a Schedule 1 offence, anyone convicted by the courts, and any person whose name had been added into the National Register for Sex Offenders. SAPS was currently in the process of creating a unique person identifier, which would consolidate all previous methods.
The Chairperson interjected and stated her desire for the presentation to get to monetary figures as that was the current primary concern of the Committee and her patience was wearing thin with the current situation.
The proper steps in taking a Buccal Sample were explained in detail by Lt Gen Ngubane which were to be taken after the fingerprints. Upon successful completion of obtaining a buccal sample the information was registered and the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) would analyze and take the proper steps in creating a profile. The FSL would complete a comparative search of the sample via their database. If the sample created any leads, those leads were followed, if not it was reported so. Each person who had a sample taken was provided with a unique number accompanying their sample and in the case of multiple persons arrested in one crime each still had their own number.
Lt Gen Ngubane addressed a previously raised concern about the expunging of information, noting that there was currently no expunging process in place, but he would present an outline for the future process. Information would be expunged from the Arrestee Index if the accused was found innocent or the case was withdrawn, their information would be expunged. This was the case for those who had DNA profiles in the Volunteer Index, once they had finished their purpose or their case was finalized, their information was expunged. Whenever someone was convicted, the DNA Profile was removed from the Arrestee Index and automatically loaded onto the Convicted Offender Index.
Familial Searching was done in the case of serial violent rape, serial murder cases or to identify unidentified remains and missing persons. This was done to provide detectives with leads by comparing familial DNA profiles through medium stringency settings.
The process of using DNA from foreign and international law enforcement agencies was explained as South Africa had access to the Interpol DNA gateway. DNA profiles would be obtained from international law enforcement agencies and subsequently put through comparative analysis with the DNA profile database in South Africa to see if any forensic leads were found. SAPS loaded forensic DNA profiles onto the Interpol DNA gateway. Once the National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD) was in place, this process would become automatic.
Lt Gen Ngubane went on to explain some of the expected costs and the time frames set out for implementation. It was planned to have a Steering Committee in place by July 31 and that this committee would meet on a monthly basis to discuss progress. SAPS had a goal of scoping the full functionality of the integrated booking process in order to ensure proper functioning by the end of September 2013 as well as to have the interface functioning. Having the interface completed by this date would ensure that the individual number method system of identification was functional.
The plan used many systems that were already in place but that these systems would require changes to meet new needs. The system would take much customization and that this would take a significant amount of time as the customization was quite intricate. The plan stated that the purchase and installation of barcode scanners was to be completed by the end of June 2014, and that this was a major part of the implementation process along with the installation of the proper labware.
In response to Lt Gen Ngubane asking if he should go through each cost as it seemed like a tedious task, the Chairperson said that she believed it was necessary to do so as it was the Committee’s main concern.
Lt Gen Ngubane noted the importance of the new CRIM interface's ability to support the National Register for Sex Offenders. By ensuring that the information between SAPS, Department of Justice, and the National Register for Sex Offenders was automated, it would ensure that all DNA information would be processed in an appropriate time as to ensure no mandates expire. SAPS intended on completing a project plan in regards to person tracking within the Criminal Justice System (CJS) by the end of 2014.
One of the reasons the initial implementation tasks would take so long was that the previous system implemented in 1999 was comprised of a database and an application which were embedded together and it would be necessary for both to be untangled in order for SAPS to handle the volumes they have. This would be done in order to continue processes while the new configuration was being installed.
The correct software was currently in place, and the issue was working with Forensic Services to develop specifications in order to begin implementation. The plan to roll out new equipment as well as the Support Reference Index should commence by 31 August 2013 but that it was dependent on the contract with SITA.
Lt Gen Ngunbane continued through the table, noting the expenditures.
SAPS would soon sign an agreement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for implementation of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), currently in use in about 70 countries. A decision had to be made about whether SAPS would choose to use CODIS or a homegrown system entitled SOLVE.
Lt Gen Ngunbane expressed his concern with CODIS which was that there was no current access to the CODIS softcode because every country had its own unique softcode, so it would have to be customized. He noted that despite this, the amount of work for both systems would be about the same and that CODIS was a proven system. By the end of September, SAPS would visit foreign countries with CODIS in place in order to assess the amount of customization that would be need to be done and its cost. SAPS was leaning towards choosing CODIS and SITA had already demonstrated itss support for CODIS due to its proven track record.
Lt Gen Ngunbane explained the next step which was to move into prioritized functions, but this step was dependent on the completion of the previous stage. This process was estimated to cost R7 million, with another R4 million going towards customization. The final step was an annual risk assessment done by SITA to identify shortcomings, which would be at an annual cost of R3 million. He ended his presentation by stating that the biggest issue was the completion of Phase 1, which was the identification of the proper system to use. He reiterated SITA's backing of CODIS.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) expressed frustration about the Steering Committee only being established now. She asked why it was beginning only now although the Bill had been in discussion for quite some time.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked for clarification on whether the Bill would work retroactively in collecting samples from those with prior convictions residing in Correctional Services facilities. The presentation made her confused because no final monetary figure was given. However, she had added up the figures herself and it came to roughly R70 million. She questioned whether this figure was correct because she saw some problems, including some costs that were just estimates, some which were annual costs, and no figure for the barcode scanners. She asked for the total cost as well as the annual expenditure. She mentioned her frustration at this as she believed finding such totals was the original purpose of the meeting. She expressed concern over the lack of a concrete time frame and questioned how long this process would actually take.
Mr M George (COPE) noted concern about previously raised questions still not being addressed including the Property Control and Exhibit Management (PCEM) contract and why it was not in full operation yet, although he was under the impression the case was to the contrary. He commented on how SAPS kept referring to the project as an intricate one. He did not believe that was a valid excuse for not having a set finish date. He asked how the Committee was expected to pass a bill that was as vague as the one presented by SAPS. He believed the lack of a total cost was deliberate and claimed that this presentation was worse than the previous one.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked why there was such a large gap between the modernisation of the DE-STR Lab in June 2014 and the Labware configuration in December 2017. He added to Ms Molebatsi's question about the Steering Committee, asking who and how many would be on this committee.
The Chairperson was in agreement with the rest of the Committee that the lack of a total and an annual cost was troubling. She accused SAPS of complicating the issue in an attempt to create a lack of understanding amongst the Committee, but she assured them they would wait and learn instead. The Chairperson brought into question the figures given in regards to training. She claimed that the budget for this year did not have the funds to train 300 000 people and that SAPS should know that. The Chairperson noted the claim that the training process would take R25 million per year, but questioned for how long would this continue. The statistic given was 650 000 samples taken per year, but she believed that this was too low given that more than 50% of crimes committed in South Africa were Schedule 1 offences. She asked of the 650 000 samples, how many would be sent to be analyzed and why was this not reflected in the costs? The Committee still had plenty of questions to be answered and requested that the answers from SAPS be short and precise.
Lt Gen Ngubane acknowledged Mr George's question on the implementation of the PCEM process and stated that PCEM would begin rollout when the software development had been completed which was scheduled for December 2013.
The Chairperson said there was confusion among the Committee about PCEM because during the last meeting, it was said that PCEM was ready to go. She clarified that PCEM was functional at the laboratory which was a test site and that this should have been said by SAPS to avoid confusion.
Lt Gen Ngubane addressed the concerns about the Steering Committee by stating that the Steering Committee was in the process of being formed
The Chairperson interjected to reiterate the point previously raised on why the Steering Committee was only being formed now.
Lt Gen Ngubane replied that all he could say was that was the decision that was made.
The Chairperson stated sternly that this Bill had been in the process for four years and commented that if the Bill had been passed right away, they would still not be able to implement it because a Steering Committee was only in the process of being formed. The Chairperson questioned SAPS as to why they had not been working proactively as technology support.
Lt Gen Ngubane stated that mistakes had been made in the past and they were aware of that, but they had the Bill and were trying to conform to the requirements at the time being. Had the Committee passed the Bill earlier, they would have had to support it at the time. One reason they had begun to form the Committee was because the urgency had increased. Some of the requirements had already been in place but some main systems needed to be in place for everything to be functional and it would take time because they needed to ensure that the database was properly managed.
Gen Shezi continued by clarifying that this Bill would cover both those who had been convicted in the past and those who were in the process of going through the legal system.
Lt Gen Ngubane noted that SAPS had come to the realisation at this meeting that they would need to have a total figure.
The Chairperson interjected that that was the reason they had asked SAPS to come back after having the first meeting.
Lt Gen Ngubane continued by stating that work was ongoing regardless but they were working within the constraints of not having the Bill passed. Many costs were estimates but the cost of the software was the real cost.
The Chairperson again interjected and requested that after lunch they return with a total cost, including hardware, software and the total costs. The Chairperson expressed frustration in that it was the second time SAPS had come before the Committee without the requested costs.
Lt Gen Ngubane addressed the question on the time line. The configuration of the main databases would be completed in December 2017. Work would be completed in the mean time but he reiterated that for the main database to be complete, it would take a four-year period. In the meantime, they were focused on ensuring that the current system in place would continue to work while the new systems were being configured.
The Chairperson asked what the limitations of the current system were so that the Committee could be aware of what constraints SAPS was working with during the four-year implementation period.
Gen Shezi explained that the current system was designed only to handle a certain amount of information. With all the changes that had occurred since the system was established in terms of technological advancements, the current system was becoming insufficient and this was why the new system must established.
With these revelations, the Chairperson asked what the limitations of using the old system for the next four years would be.
Gen Shezi replied that processing times would be greatly increased as well as there would be missing timelines.
The Chairperson noted that with this information the Committee would be able to put provisions in the transitional arrangement to address this. She noted that it was frustrating for the Committee to be the ones to have to come up with such things.
Gen Shezi addressed the question of how many officers would be trained by stating that it was the intention to have all officers trained but that it would be prioritized and thus detectives would be trained in the first year. Training would be at a rate of 20 000 officers per annum.
The Chairperson stated that by her calculations it would take R2.5 billion and nine years to train all SAPS members.
Ms Kohler-Barnard said that the presenters must accept the Committee's skepticism because that particular division had broken prior promises. The Committee would not sign a Bill that did not have a total cost and was filled with holes. Many past bills remain unimplemented in the stations they had visited. She noted her lack of confidence in and frustration with SAPS and asked if they were wasting billions of taxpayers’ money.
Mr Ndvolu reiterated his concern about the cost of the Bill as some of the costs noted in the presentation were not covered in the budget. He asked about the time frame and cost of training all detectives.
Mr George asked if the training would be with the Department of Health and if could be done with the current facilities.
The Chairperson asked why SAPS and SITA still had the SOLVE system in consideration when it was admittedly an unproven system. She noted that the statement that South Africa was a unique situation was not valid as every country had its own unique circumstances. She asked what the cost of SOLVE would be. She was curious as to why SITA would recommend looking at another system when they had previously told SAPS that CODIS was the best option.
Lt Gen Ngubane answered the question of who would be a part of the Steering Committee by stating that it was an internally operated committee with members from SAPS, SITA, technology management and the forensics division.
Mr George asked if this was an internal committee why had it taken so long for it to be implemented?
The Chairperson interjected and stated that whether the committee was to be set up at that moment or in the proceeding weeks it would not make a difference because it should have been set up four years ago.
Lt Gen Ngubane responded by saying the Steering Committee was now ready to begin its work.
This comment was met with skepticism and laughter from the Committee prompting the Chairperson to ask for order.
Lt Gen Ngubane addressed the question of why they were looking at the CODIS system in other countries by stating that it would help them better learn about the adaptation process. Why they were still looking at SOLVE was a question he had asked himself, as SOLVE was an untested system. They already had the SOLVE software and that was the main reason it was being looked at. The system was given to them and they had planned to roll out the system but SITA intervened and recommended considering CODIS instead.
The Chairperson was of the opinion that the problems were in the IT department as the SOLVE system might be free, but the costs came with its adaptation. The cost of adaptation could amount to considerably more than previously estimated. What would the cost of adapting SOLVE be?
Lt Gen Ngubane replied that the cost of adapting SOLVE would be the same as adapting CODIS, which was estimated at R44 million. The Chairperson's statement about free software was true and it was given under the PCEM contract.
Mr Ndvolu said that SOLVE was not the preferred solution of the Committee and it should go with CODIS.
The Chairperson stated that CODIS was the choice of SITA and that SAPS should have known that. She continued that comparing the two systems was a waste of taxpayers’ money and should not be done. She stated that deciding to look at SOLVE because of the PCEM contract was their problem.
Lt Gen Ngubane asked the Committee if they could defer some of the cost related questions until after lunch.
The Chairperson interjected by again reiterating that that was the purpose of the meeting.
Lt Gen Ngubane stated that they would provide a better cost breakdown after lunch.
This statement was met with a large amount of skepticism from the Committee.
Ms Molebatsi asked how long it would take to train the detectives from the date of implementation.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would sit down and write a list of specific questions so that they could have official answers on record and that this would be done the following Wednesday 31 August. The Chairperson noted her disappointment with how the plan presented was all over the place.
Correctional Services Implementation of Bill for DCS Correctional and Remand Detainees
Ms Britta Rotman, DCS Chief Deputy Commissioner: Remand Detainees, focused on backlogging the system and documenting those in correctional facilities and those in remand. She noted the bodies that formed the Implementation Task Team: Department of Correctional Services; SAPS (Forensic Services and Legal Services); National Department of Health; National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS); Civilian Secretariat for Police; Integrated Justice System Board; CJS Review.
The Bill stated that the head of the relevant Correctional Centre or Remand Detention (RD) Facility had the responsibility to take DNA samples from those serving a sentence in their facilities. Meetings between SAPS, NHLS, DCS and the Office for Criminal Justice System Reform (OCJSR) were conducted to find appropriate and efficient ways of obtaining the buccal samples and to train the authorised persons. There were a total of 239 operational Correctional Facilities with a total population of 151 921 persons serviced by 990 DCS nurses, of these 990 DCS Nurse posts there were a 122 vacant.
Ms Rotman stated that it was estimated that 5 000 SAPS and Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) members would be trained by the end of the financial year and 20 000 per annum there after. After training they ensure the Committee that trained people would be well distributed across the country. Ms Rotman went on to note that samples would be taken by people of the same gender, which had the potential to slow down operations. She stated that if all DCS Nurses were to be trained it would cost R1.2 million.
Ms Rotman noted the belief that with an aggressive approach the entire population within the DCS system could be processed within two years. She explained the DCS approach to getting samples from remand detainees by stating that they would enter the system upon arrest during the time SAPS was implementing the Bill. Those remand detainees who were in DCS facilities for longer periods would be catered to differently as they represented a minority.
Ms Rotman assured the Committee that all sentenced inmates would be processed within 12-18 months after the implementation date and the work would be done by the newly trained SAPS officials. Once the backlogging was completed, the need for buccal swabbing in Correctional or Remand facilities would diminish to almost zero as most would have been processed upon arrest. The need for DCS to take samples would exist only in exceptional circumstances. DCS's primary role in the implementation would primarily be to aid SAPS in the taking of samples by providing a place to do so and support.
It was recommended by Ms Rotman that the samples be taken by SAPS officials under DCS supervision as it negated the need for DCS to provide any storage of buccal samples and ensured that the samples were brought to SAPS and FSL as quickly as possible. SAPS would have to provide DCS with information on swabs that had been newly collected from newly admitted detainees for DCS records.
Ms Rotman noted the creation of a cross-departmental Memorandum of Understanding which provided an agreed upon framework relating to information flow and training of authorised persons by the Department of Health through NHLS. This understanding ensured that the taking of buccal samples and related issues was in accordance with the National Health Act.
Ms Rotman concluded her presentation by assuring the Committee that the Joint Implementation Team consultation between all parties was happening and that implementation planning was on track. She stated that approving this Bill would aid the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) in its endeavors to substantially reduce crime.
The Chairperson asked a question of clarity in regards to the DCS not having complete capacity for training.
Mr George asked why the nurses did not have the ability to train, as he was under the impression they were trained to international standards.
Ms Rotman clarified that it was not the ability of the nurses that was in question; rather she was referring to the difficulty of backlogging the database. Organized prioritisation measures must be taken in order to vanquish the long procedure of backlogging.
Training Plan for SAPS Officials by National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS)
Ms Nimee Dhuloo, Acting Executive Manager: Human Resources, noted that NHLS was a public laboratory service with a network of laboratories across South Africa. It worked under the mandate of the Department of Health and was established in 2001 by an Act of Parliament in order to provide diagnostic pathology laboratory services to national and provincial health departments.
Ms Dhuloo stated that NHLS had over 7000 staff and 349 laboratories serving 80% of the population. She went on to speak of the importance of the training they provide by stating that their training would be in line to international legislation and provide competent authorised officials in the taking of buccal samples. She noted the success of NHLS in training and their promotion of development in laboratory services.
The NHLS would provide training to groups of 20 at venues located within 150 kilometers of the cluster police station and that following the training a competency assessment would be done and once deemed competent the official would receive a certificate stating so. The training would be extended to approximately 100 000 police officials over a five year period and a national rollout of 20 000 officials per annum would occur across different venues in the country.
The time frame that NHLS had for implementing training was to start the pilot in October 2013 with real training starting in November 2013 and pausing during the holiday season. The initial training would encompass roughly 3000 police officials who would provide feedback to NHLS who would make adjustments accordingly. Training and roll out would commence in Gauteng. The training schedule the NHLS had set out as part of the one-day learning program was:
Section A: Training and Competency of collection of Buccal Smears
This section included background information, the preparation of the workplace, paperwork, and information on health and safety. The program continued by training on the collection of a sample and the proper use of the kits as well as proper storage methods for buccal samples. Section A concluded with the taking of the Competency Assessment test.
Section B: SAPS/Forensic Awareness
This section focused on training officials as to what forensic science is, as well as information regarding the National DNA database. It provided trainees with the opportunity to ask questions and provide NHLS with feedback in regards to the training.
The presentation of NHLS concluded with the reiteration of their commitment to delivering the best training for SAPS as well as their excitement to get started.
The Chairperson thanked NHLS for the presentation and noted that it had addressed some of the previously raised concerns. She noted to SAPS that when the memorandum of understanding was signed the Committee would need a copy for their records.
Mr George asked what happened to those who fail the assessment at the end of training. He asked for clarification on where the training would be done, as he was under the impression that SAPS did not have the facilities.
Mr Ndvolu asked whether all the labs were functioning properly because he worried that with backlogging, cases could be thrown out due to time constraints.
The Chairperson interjected at this point and explained to Mr Ndvolu that NHLS was not the body responsible for backlogging.
Mr B Dume, NHLS National Project Manager, explained that there was a difference between forensic labs and the NHLS labs and that there was no backlogging at the NHLS labs.
Ms M Baruth, NHLS National Training Manager, addressed Mr George's question saying that no one fails an assessment because it was about knowledge, skill, attitude. It was all gained through theory as well as practical direct observation. If a trainee was incorrect, they remained on site until they understood and passed.
The Chairperson stated that this information was good to know as it demonstrated that those without the proper attitude would not be successful in the training. She asked how much the cost of each buccal swab was and how much the cost was per trainee.
Ms Dhuloo replied that each kit cost R668 and training would cost R1 475 per officer. She stated, upon being asked by the Chairperson, that there would be no extra costs.
Gen Shezi stated that there was no perceived cost escalation based on NHLS estimates. The competency tests performed by NHLS would allow SAPS to better know who should be doing the actual testing.
Mr George interjected and stated that he believed most officers would fail the attitude test.
Gen Shezi responded by stating that SAPS would not certify incompetency.
The Chairperson suggested that SITA and SAPS should leave to figure out a total cost.
Afternoon session (see second report)
The Chairperson stated that the time allotted over lunch to SAPS and SITA to bring back a total cost figure was insufficient and they would require more time. She suggested that it was best for the Committee to move on and begin deliberations on the Bill.
- Implementation of Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill for Persons Detained in DCS Correctional & Remand Facilities
- Annexure B: DCS Medical Practitioners and Nurses
- Countries Using CODIS
- South African Police Services presentation
- DCS: Implementation of Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill
- Training Plan for SAPS Officials by NHLS
- Business Plan of the Main Drivers to Support DNA Bill (July 2013)
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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