Original articles

Recovering of DNA evidence after rape

Ruxana Jina, Rachel Jewkes, Nicola Christofides, Joe H Smith

Abstract


Objective. Sexual assault evidence collection kits (SAECKs) are used to collect evidence for DNA recovery after rape. The aim of this study was to assess the extent of completion of the kits by health care workers in 6 provinces of South Africa.
Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted to code SAECKs that were analysed at one forensic science laboratory in South Africa.
Results. The findings from 204 SAECKs that were analysed are presented. The study found that none of the SAECKs complied fully with administrative quality requirements. Almost all of the specimens that were collected were analysed, except for pubic and head hair specimens that were rarely collected and analysed. A quarter of SAECKs did not have one of the three genital specimens collected. The presence and availability of all three genital swabs for forensic DNA analysis were found to be significant as this increased the chance of evidence recovery and obtaining a foreign forensic DNA profile. In 80% of cases, the DNA matched the suspect.
Conclusions. The study showed that there was a need to improve the identification of priority cases involving children. The importance of administrative quality and the significance of collecting all three genital specimens should be emphasised in training programmes for health care workers. The SAECKs must also be adapted to local settings to minimise wastage. The study raises questions related to other aspects of sexual assault services and has implications regarding the overall quality of care that survivors receive.

Authors' affiliations

Ruxana Jina, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

Rachel Jewkes, Gender and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council

Nicola Christofides, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

Joe H Smith, Biology Section Forensic Science Laboratory, South African Police Services

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Keywords

Sexual assault; Rape; DNA

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2011;101(10):758-759.

Article History

Date submitted: 2011-01-05
Date published: 2011-09-27

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