The South African National Assembly’s Police Committee sent a SA Police delegation packing for failing to explain how the department would set up a proposed national DNA database. The delegation of senior police officers was instructed to prepare properly and reappear before the committee at a later date.
Committee chairperson Sindi Chikunga cut short a briefing by senior police officials because they could not say how much money or staff it would take to create the database provided for in the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill. The bill was intended to expand police powers to collect and store DNA samples, and establish and administer a national DNA database. It also gave police access to the home affairs department’s electronic database, which currently stored fingerprints of 31 million citizens and about 2.5 million foreigners, as well as to the transport department’s database where six million thumbprints were stored. At present police only have access to their own database, which stores fingerprints of a limited number of convicted persons.