Eastern Cape drunk driving bombshell

Massive delays in blood tests for drunk drivers in the Eastern Cape allow them to escape the full wrath of the law.This bombshell has left me feeling outraged. Too many tears are shed by grieving families while the culprits are getting away with murder.

The DA believes that we need a criminal justice system that is properly coordinated so that offenders can be nailed and jailed. Court cases against drunken drivers are not succeeding due to high backlogs in blood testing by the Forensic Science Laboratory. Some results have been outstanding for more than two years and in some instances cases get removed from the roll because of delays.

Drunken driving is a major cause of the carnage we witness on our roads every year. It destroys lives and families and comes with huge financial implications when the breadwinner is killed.

The prospect of getting caught is not a deterrent to stop people from drunk driving because they know the cases will not succeed in court. This makes a mockery of the legal process.

Our criminal justice system is failing the victims and road safety in general as culprits who are not taken off the road can re-offend. We need to get dangerous drivers off the road and those responsible for the huge delay in processing these blood tests need to be fired.

According to the reply to a legislature question I asked the MEC for Safety and Liaison, Helen Sauls-August, delays in obtaining a total of 2 871 blood test results in the Eastern Cape varied from six months to two years. For the reply, click here:

Reply to question 235 of 2013

Totals for outstanding blood test results were:

One year = 954

18 months = 577

Two years = 203

The DA proposes that the Forensic Chemistry Laboratories from the Department of Health and the Forensic Science Laboratory from the South African Police Services (SAPS) merge to form a Forensic Laboratory Service which would operate as a private-public partnership.

There is a national backlog of 52 748 toxicology, drunken driving and post-mortem samples awaiting processing at Forensic Chemistry Laboratories across the country. The MEC must use the full weight of her office to ensure that the capacity and resources of the Forensic Science Laboratory are addressed.