The backlog of DNA results in Mpumalanga is not only frustrating prosecutors and law-enforcement agencies, but it has also resulted in some long-standing court cases of rape, murder and gender-based violence remaining unresolved and some victims still to be buried.
The delay has led to about 80% of criminal cases not being concluded in the province. In a much-publicised murder case in Masoyi village, near Hazyview, two of the five victims of an alleged serial killer have not been buried because their DNA results have not been received from the lab.
Their identities cannot be confirmed, and their bodies cannot be released to their families for burial until the DNA results are received. Their bodies were dug out from shallow graves at Julius Mndawe’s house in July 2019.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi told a national newspaper that two samples of the remaining bodies on the Masoyi murder cases were taken to Switzerland because the DNA results from SA were inconclusive. Hlathi said the investigation into the case is still on and the samples were taken to Switzerland last year because the DNA results from here were not conclusive.
“We are still waiting and we cannot say when the results will come back because of many hindering factors which include the Covid-19 pandemic. But the accused [Mndawe] is still facing five counts of murder and the court will continue without the outstanding investigation on the bodies that were linked to him,” said Hlathi.
Mndawe is back in the Masoyi magistrate’s court on the 2nd of March.
NPA spokesperson in the province, Monica Nyuswa said though there two bodies are not positively identified through DNA, the trial of Mndawe will continue.
Thembisile Mdluli, who is Noxolo Mdluli’s mother, one of the five alleged victims of Mndawe, said the delay of the DNA results is traumatising the family.
“They keep telling us lies. We are not even told by the police if the DNA tests have come back but we have to ask and we are told they are still waiting too. This is painful for us because we are still mourning and victimised by the state at the same time. This is too much for us. It’s been two years since my daughter was killed but I have not buried her,” said Mdluli.
Mdluli said they were told that 2020 will not end without them getting theirloved ones buried but it’s already 2021 and they are still waiting for DNA.
Nyuswa said about 80% of their cases still await DNA results and it pains prosecutors to have to explain to the victims of families about the delays.
National police spokesperson, Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the country has only four laboratories but they are prioritising rape cases.
“Forensic Services has laboratories located in Pretoria, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal for processing of samples. Rape cases are being prioritised by Forensics Division to ensure that forensic services products and support to crime scenes are prioritised,” Naidoo said.
He also explained that monitoring mechanisms have been implemented to ensure the prioritisation for outstanding cases and that where there are backlogs, they have put in place an integrated resource management strategy.