The Namibian Police’s Forensic Science Institute says it has prioritised the murder case of Shannon Wasserfall after receiving an additional N$6 million from Treasury to fast-track DNA samples required in the ongoing court case.
A fortnight ago, Walvis Bay-based magistrate Vicky Nicolaidis rebuked the State for taking too long to finalise the investigations following the appearance of two suspects linked to the murder.
She indicated then that it would be the last time she postpones the case. Nicolaidis postponed it to 16 May for the prosecutor general’s decision.
According to her, it was rather disconcerting for the court that the State is still grappling with outstanding DNA results, 17 months after the suspects were arrested. Two suspects, Azaan Madisia and Junior Mulundu, are currently in custody over Wasserfall’s murder. In an interview with New Era yesterday, head of the NPFSI Nelius Becker confirmed that they have received some funds for two screening kits and two DNA kits.
He said the department currently has a backlog of 4 174 DNA cases. The institute needs an additional N$137 million to clear the backlog of more than 4 000 cases. Those cases, according to Becker, include serious murders and rapes, of which a large majority are in court or under investigation. He explained that DNA analysis is a costly process as it costs N$9 800 per sample. They are working on three samples per case as an estimate, but one case can go up to 20 samples, depending on the analysis.
“The only solution to this matter is to receive a dedicated budget that does not have to come from the police. It can even be managed by someone else. If there are no funds, there is nothing we can do. Every day, we get new cases and unfortunately, this is the situation”, he lamented. He said so far, they have engaged the Motor-Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund to at least fund the DNA processing involving motor-vehicle accidents, but they did not respond to the plea. Becker added that they will prioritise six victims out of the 15 who died in an accident in December between Okahandja and Otjiwarongo for DNA analysis. The people died in an accident involving a minibus and a sedan on 10 December 2021. The police earlier indicated that due to legal implications, death certificates cannot be issued for individuals who have not yet been identified, and due to the circumstances of the accident. “With small funds at our disposal, we will maybe be able to do a DNA analysis for five to six victims, as one of them was identified through other means, and it was successful. That one we do not need to analyse as it was already confirmed and the person buried,” he said.
Becker reiterated that the result of Wasserfall will see the light of day soon as the only thing that is outstanding on the analysis is the profile of the deceased that needs to be confirmed before the DNA could be released. Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga also confirmed that they recently received some funds from government to speed up DNA analysis results in the Wasserfall murder case. “We have secured some funds, and that case of Wasserfall will receive its results soon. But the problem here is not lack of capacity, it is the funds, and people need to understand that our country is facing some serious financial problems,” he indicated.
Crisis… Forensic science department head Nelius Becker says they need more money for DNA tests.