Govt Devotion to Forensic Lab Welcome [opinion]

A FORENSIC Laboratory is a major cog in the wheel puzzle, if Zambia is to combat sophisticated crime as well as resolving vexing cases using Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) analysis.

World over, forensic evidence has come in handy in solving complicated crimes and Zambia cannot afford to lag behind in using such modern technology.

We therefore concur with Home Affairs minister Ngosa Simbyakula who was unnerved yesterday to see the laxity in the construction of the building meant to house the much-needed forensic laboratory at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.

What is even more worrisome is that so much money is being spent to get DNA analysis by sending samples to South Africa which in turn is also delaying the process of getting to the bottom of sophisticated crimes.

In some instances, suspects are being let off the hook because the security wings have no equipment to use DNA analysis, while other cases are being discontinued because of lack of evidence that would otherwise be resolved through DNA analysis.

With the rampant cases of defilement and rape incidences, DNA analysis will help security wings to resolve cases as opposed to the current situation where suspects are being held only against the word of the victims, some of them wrongly.

Recently, the country recorded thefts at automated teller machines where some foreigners were inserting a gadget that records the secret pin numbers of unsuspecting clients.

Some of the equipment that has already been installed at Force Headquarters is the answer to counter such crimes.

It will also not make economic sense for the forensic equipment to be marooned at the Zambia Police Service headquarters without being used considering it was acquired at great cost, a burden squarely borne by tax payers.

What role will the police officers in the department of forensic analysis be playing if all they do is to facilitate the sending of DNA samples to South Africa? When will they ever realise their importance

to the country, let alone to the profession?

Like Dr Simbyakula noted, it is surprising that the construction of the forensic laboratory at UTH has been going on for eight years yet there is nothing on the ground to show for the amount of time and

money spent since construction started in 2005.

We can only hope that the construction will finally be completed within 90 days as directed by the minister.

At a time the police command is making strides in combating cyber crime, the service will obviously need all the equipment it can marshal to win the fight.

As a member of the International Police (Interpol), it is not in order for Zambia to show signs of being a polarised haven for criminals when stolen property like motor vehicles are left to roam the streets only

to be intercepted when there is an Interpol operation.

Understandably, the criminals who perpetuate these crimes are also developing new tricks to evade the police dragnet and it will be important for the security wings to get state of the art equipment so that they are a step ahead of the criminals.

This also goes to the intellectual property wing of the police which fights the sale of counterfeit products by people who have the audacity to make fake products using a trademark label of renowned companies.

Mobile phone makers have suffered the most in this regard as well as the Ds market, forcing Government to introduce the hologram security feature which is marked on genuine products to differentiate them from counterfeit items.

The continued use of finger print technology alone may not be enough for the police service which is why the commitment by Dr Simbyakula to unbundle all the red-tape in ensuring the forensic laboratory is up and running, is welcome.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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