The use of Deoxyribonucleic Acid commonly referred to as DNA as evidence in criminal cases and identification of missing persons is long overdue in Zimbabwe, a bio-medical expert has said.
Addressing a stakeholder consultative workshop on use of DNA evidence in Harare on Wednesday, Professor Collen Masimirembwa said many countries including South Africa and Mauritius had already adopted the DNA bill hence the need for Zimbabwe to do the same.
Masimirembwa from the Africa Institute of Bio-medical Science and Technology said challenges that stalled progress in drafting of the DNA bill had been resolved.
“We faced leadership challenges in the drafting of the bill but stakeholders have now come together,
“The commission can now be discussed to see the way forward,” said Masimirembwa.
He added that previously DNA evidence testing was done through private laboratories but faced funding challenges.
“There was one Government laboratory in the country which is at the Africa Institute of Bio-medical Science and Technology.
“Now there are two, the other one is at the National University of Science and Technology,” said Masimirembwa.
Furthermore, Masimirembwa said purchasing of equipment, servicing and hiring skilled workers is expensive hence the need for funding.
“Funding was a major problem at the level of national capacity, its time to get started and attract help from government and other private stakeholders.”
Professor Geoff Feltoe from the University of Zimbabwe who also attended the event commented the DNA evidence bill.
“DNA evidence can improve prosecution rates and increase case clearance rates,” said Feltoe.
In addition, Feltoe called for inclusion of provisions that address issues of DNA theft.
DNA Bill provides for the collection, extraction, preservation, laboratory analysis and profiling of DNA evidence for use in criminal cases and identification of missing persons and unidentified human remains.
According to forensicsciencesimplified.org, with subsequent refinement of DNA analysis methods in crime laboratories, even minute amounts of blood, saliva, semen, skin cells or other biological material may be used to develop investigative leads, link a perpetrator or victim to a crime scene, or confirm or disprove an account of the crime.