State-of-art police lab opens
The who's who of the police attended the opening of the service's newest forensic science laboratory in Cape Town yesterday.
Tests at the state-of-the-art lab have confirmed that what the police found in a container at Cape Town harbour on Monday was cocaine - 20 blocks of it.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the haul has an estimated street value of R24-million.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the head of forensic services, Lieutenant-General Julius Phahlane, said Western Cape is the biggest generator of drug- related cases and as a result the laboratory's chemistry section will be kept very busy.
The laboratory, one of four in South Africa, was built over six years and cost between R500-million and R600-million.
Phahlane said it will serve Western Cape, Northern Cape and a section of Eastern Cape.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said court cases could not be finalised because of delays in forensic examinations, and criminals walked free as a result.
He reported that:
- The laboratory has reported a 63% increase in cases received for the period 2011-2012;
- There had been a 66% reduction in the backlog of examinations for the 2010-2011 financial year;
- There has been a 30% reduction in the backlog for the 2011-2012 financial year;
- R63-million has been set aside for the 2011-2012 financial year for, among other things, improving skills in the forensic services.
He warned police management that they had a "daunting task" in ensuring that the new laboratory did not become a "white elephant".