Van Breda's DNA expert has another testing time in court

17 October 2017 - 17:53 By Tanya Farber
Henri van Breda. File photo.
Henri van Breda. File photo.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

The DNA expert appearing on behalf of Henri van Breda in his triple axe-murder trial came under fire again on Tuesday.

Judge Siraj Desai said Dr Antonel Olckers had requested piles of documentation‚ and asked her: “Is this merely to look for more holes to poke into the state’s case?”

The previous day she was criticised for not writing up an independent report before hearing the testimonies of state witnesses.

Olckers also declined to sign documentation on the standard operating procedures used in laboratories because she did not feel the confidentiality terms were suitable for someone who was testifying for the defence.

But state prosecutor Susan Galloway said this was hypocritical since Olckers’s entire claim that the state’s DNA analysis was “invalid” was based on her assertion that not every single standard operating procedure — contained in hundreds of pages of documentation — had been followed and therefore the results were null and void.

Olckers later used an analogy that if a driver goes through a red robot but doesn’t crash or run anybody over‚ they have still broken the law.

“The fact that I have arrived safely doesn’t mean I haven’t broken the law. You cannot only look at the end result and say that every step preceding it is thus scientifically valid‚” she said‚ extending the analogy to include testing for alcohol in blood.

“If that blood is not stored or handled properly‚ a result will still be generated but that result will be wrong because it may now lie in a different range‚” she said.

But Galloway said testing DNA was “totally different”‚ adding: “The only thing that the delay in time can cause to a DNA sample is that it becomes degraded. It can't add more DNA or add the profile of somebody else‚” she argued.