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Lungu commissions DNA machine

MINISTER of Home Affairs Davies Mwila (centre) listening to Zambia Police Service assistant deputy commissioner Michael Nsofwa (left) on how the newly acquired DNA machine operates. The gadget was commissioned at the Police headquarters in Lusaka yesterday. PICTURE: COLLINS PHIRI.

YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
CRIMINAL cases will now be resolved faster and more conclusively with the help of Zambia’s first ever high-tech deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) machine which President Lungu has commissioned.
The K2.4 million machine will also help to quickly resolve paternity disputes as results can be received in two hours.
The machine, which was bought from France, is also the first in Africa.  The President commissioned it at the Zambia Police Service headquarters in Lusaka yesterday.
“This equipment, which was procured at a cost of K2.4 million, is in line with my Government’s vision and commitment to equip all government investigative wings with new tools to enable them deal with new crime trends in this 21st century,” he said.
The President said in a speech read for him by Minister of Home Affairs Davies Mwila that the acquisition of the machine is timely due to the escalating cases of violent crimes in the country.
He said the machine will ensure enforcement officers in need of DNA evidence are serviced quickly to enable the court to expeditiously dispose of cases.
“I do recall vividly when I was a practising lawyer and later when I became Minister of Home Affairs how police investigators were being overwhelmed with many cases pending in courts due to waiting for DNA results from abroad.
“Some cases were being discontinued and perpetrators of violent crimes discharged. So the acquisition of this machine could not have come at a better time,” he said.
And Government has engaged ZAMCHIN Construction Company Limited to construct the national forensic laboratory in Lusaka West at a cost of over K115 million.
President Lungu said the laboratory, which is expected to take 36 weeks to build, will assist in decongesting the Zambia Police Service headquarters.
Mr Lungu said his administration is committed to modernising operations of the Police Service for the benefit of the public.
He reiterated his continued support to the Police Service and assured that he will not interfere in its operations.
Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani thanked Government for its support towards the modernisation of the Police Service.
“The Zambia Police Service has a fully-fledged forensic laboratory consisting of ballistics, pathology, questioned documents, photography and scenes of crime and cyber-crime.
“The missing and vital link was the DNA machine under the biology/chemistry unit. Because of this, a lot of money was spent in transmitting samples to South Africa for analysis. This caused delays in the criminal justice system,” Ms Libongani said.
She commended the Ministry of Health for providing office space at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), which will be used for reception of samples collected from scenes of crime countrywide and release of results.
Ms Libongani also said the Zambia Police Service has partnered with boxer Catherine Phiri, who will be an ambassador in the dissemination of awareness messages to communities on criminal matters.
And Morpho Safran managing director Paul Jeremias said the organisation is proud to partner with the Zambia Police Service in enhancing security in the country.
Mr Jeremias said the DNA machine is revolutionary as it is able to produce results quickly.
He said the Zambia Police Service is the first on the African continent to acquire the high-tech machine.
“I think it (machine) offers you (Zambia Police) a great opportunity to lead [neighbouring] countries in terms of showing real leadership and application of technology to enhance security of your country,” Mr Jeremias said.

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