‘A lot of corruption’ is why SAPS has a forensic case backlog of over 117 000 – Bheki Cele

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Police Minister Bheki Cele

  • SAPS’ total forensic case backlog is 117 738 cases.
  • Corruption has played a role in creating the backlog, Police Minister Bheki Cele said.
  • The police intend to establish a scientific academy in Soshanguve, once the Covid-19 pandemic passes.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has a total forensic case backlog of 117 738 cases due to “a lot of corruption”, Police Minister Bheki Cele admitted to the National Assembly on Wednesday.

He was asked by DA MP Andrew Whitfield what the total backlog is.

Cele said the SAPS head office had a backlog of 72 467, the Western Cape 39 400, Kwazulu-Natal 3 204 and the Eastern Cape 2 667.

Whitfield said the forensic service performance indicators have been going down in the second and third quarter of the 2019-2020 financial year.

“You knew last year already that a significant backlog in DNA case exhibits was developing at your forensic laboratories, denying thousands of people the justice they deserve,” Whitfield said.

“One wonders how many cases could have been prosecuted if DNA analysis were not delayed or bungled by your department.

“Minister, it is not yet clear whether it is incompetence or corruption.”

He asked what Cele had done, if it was due to corruption.

“As we all know, the head of laboratories, which is General Phahlane, has been having court issues for some time now and that has led to the national commissioner firing him, but there are court issues going on,” Cele replied.

Corruption ‘has been addressed’

He was referring to former acting police commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane, who is currently standing trial with others in the so-called blue lights tender case.

He said the former head of technology, General Adeline Shezi, was also involved.

“There has been a lot of corruption…[that] is involved here, but that has been addressed,” he said.

“Both generals have been fired and are facing court proceedings.”

He said there have also been some “contradictions” between the State Information Technology Agency and the police’s laboratory services, but this is also being straightened out.  

Cele also blamed “poor management of contracts”, but added that this has also been corrected.

He said his deputy, Cassel Mathale, had visited “some serious institutions, like the FBI and Scotland Yard”, intending to develop a scientific academy for SAPS.

This will be situated in Soshanguve and they are working with the Department of Higher Education.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the start of the project.

Once everything is back to normal, the work on it will begin.

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