High Court of Swaziland

EZULWINI – The authorities in SWAZILAND say lack of a laboratory to carry out DNA analysis in rape cases is ONE of the major reasons why suspects escape the arm of the law.

The TIMES OF SWAZILAND says Principal Judge QINISILE MABUZA has revealed the information during a workshop place at the HAPPY VALLEY Resort in EZULWINI Town.

It says the gathering has been discussing ways to enhance redress and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence in the Kingdom, where she detailed some of the challenges judges face whenever they deal with such cases.

The TIMES says Justice MABUZA has shared her own experience during a case she once dealt with; saying years went by without a DNA analysis, which forced her to acquit the perpetrator.

She says another weak link is while the police always do a commendable job in their investigations, there are problems when they got to the hospitals and hand over the survivors to doctors.

Justice MABUZA says no one educates the doctors on what the courts expect and police officers compile the dockets without reading the medical reports to determine whether the laid charges can be sustained, which ends up disturbing the cases.

She says it is worrying that when the DNA analysis evidence goes to neighbouring SOUTH AFRICA it sometimes takes long to return; and the suspect she mentioned escaped because it was already THREE years when the profiles returned.

Justice MABUZA says the delays are often because the lab in PRETORIA has a backlog as it has to service the whole of SOUTH AFRICA and other countries such as LESOTHO, BOTSWANA, and now ZIMBABWE.

She says there is need to lobby the government to consider construction of a big laboratory, which can benefit the country handsomely as it will also service other nations in the Southern AFRICA Region.

Justice MABUZA says judges take the issue of incest seriously and treat it according to the training they received, but there is need for a proper understanding of the term Access to Justice, which she said was TWO-fold.

She says both the perpetrator and the survivor have rights that the courts have to respect, which means judicial officers have to ensure they do a balancing act.

Furthermore, the SWAZI Justice has pleaded with the police and judicial officers to have meetings constantly in order to discuss issues of bail conditions./Sabanews/cam

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