Clueless police top brass sent packing

25 July 2013 - 12:52 By DENISE WILLIAMS

SA POLICE Service top brass were sent packing by MPs yesterday after they were unable to say how many billions the enactment of the "DNA Bill" would cost taxpayers.

Briefing the portfolio committee on policing, SAPS divisional commander for technology management services Lieutenant-General Bonginkosi Ngubane was unable, for the second time in two months, to explain why the department could not give the total cost of the information technology system it needed to support the Criminal Law (Forensics Procedures) Amendment Bill.

After facing harsh criticism from MPs, the police and State Information Technology Agency officials went into a private huddle - but returned empty-handed.

"I have been informed that making sense of the figures after an hour-and-a-half is not really possible . It's not really surprising," said chairman Annelize van Wyk. She gave the police and IT agency until Wednesday next week to submit the total cost in writing.

The bill is intended to give the police more powers to collect and store DNA samples taken from convicted felons, crime scenes and missing persons. The information could be referenced against other DNA samples listed on police database by other departments in the crime prevention and security cluster, and by international agencies.

Though the overall expenditure was not available, Ngubane was able to outline some of the costs involved.

These included:

R44.5-million for the software;

R40-million to configure the laboratory ware; and

R6-million to train 3000 senior officers by the end of this financial year, and an estimated R25-million for the next nine years.

Ngubane said it would take four years for the system and database to be up and running.

"In the meantime, we've got to work with what we have. It's an old system. It's not written according to the new architecture," he said. The choice of software for the envisaged system was questioned. It has yet to be decided whether the FBI's Codis or the "home-grown" Solve would be used.