Bottlenecks hit drunk driving cases: The Herald

A BACKLOG at the Forensic Science Laboratory is causing massive delays in blood tests for drunk drivers in the Eastern Cape.

This came to light when Safety and Liaison MEC Helen Sauls-August responded to a question by the DA’s Bobby Stevenson in the legislature. In an official response, Sauls-August said the delays in obtaining 2 871 blood test results in the Eastern Cape varied from six months to two years.

Outstanding blood test results were: 1 087 for six months, 954 for one year, 577 for 18 months and 203 for two years.

The MEC conceded that the backlog had hampered the prosecution of drunk driving cases.

The bottleneck allowed drunk drivers to escape the full wrath of the law, the DA said.

Stevenson pointed out that some blood results had been outstanding for more than two years, and, in some instances, cases were 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,” he said.

The prospect of getting caught was not a deterrent because cases were not succeeding in court. Also, the criminal justice system was failing victims – and road safety in general – as culprits who were not taken off the road could re-offend, he said.

“The DA believes South Africa needs a criminal justice system that is properly coordinated so that offenders can be nailed and jailed,” Stevenson said. Sauls-August’s spokesman, Lwandile Sicwetsha, declined to comment.