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Home / Shannon: Cops pin hopes on fingerprint… N$45m needed to clear country’s DNA backlog

Shannon: Cops pin hopes on fingerprint… N$45m needed to clear country’s DNA backlog

2020-10-13  Eveline de Klerk

Shannon: Cops pin hopes on fingerprint… N$45m needed to clear country’s DNA backlog
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WALVIS BAY – Police have managed to get a partial fingerprint from the remains suspected to be that of Shannon Wasserfall which will now be used to identify her. Reagents and consumables required to carry out the DNA test were ordered yesterday, the head of the Namibian Police Forensic Science Institute (NPFSI) Commissioner Nelius Becker told New Era. 
Becker yesterday said that they are relieved that they could get the partial fingerprint as DNA results sometimes do not yield positive results. “We were looking for teeth fillings seeing that it is also another way to positively identify people as the remains suspected to be that of Wasserfall were badly decomposed,” he said. 
He said the partial fingerprint will now be used to identify the 22-year-old Wasserfall by comparing it with her identity documents. According to Becker, she is currently about 89% identified, 

adding the public would be informed after the family is consulted about the outcome.  Becker said at least four fingers were still preserved hence they could use the fingertips to get a partial fingerprint. The fingernails on the fingers were intact too, he told New Era. 
“We are not sure if we will get a proper DNA result based on the condition of the remains as the acidic nature of the sand in which it was also plays a role and can influence the DNA profile harvested,” he explained.

DNA backlog 
Meanwhile, Becker told New Era the country currently has a backlog of 1 800 cases requiring DNA testing.  He said it will at least cost about N$45 million to clear the backlog. Cases featuring in court are now currently being made a priority for testing. 
Becker explained that DNA testing is a costly process and that in the case of Wasserfall they would need at least three tests. “The sample goes through a various processes which include screening; then we have to see if the sample is a human product. Then you will have to amplify it to get a DNA profile,” he said. Becker added that DNA testing is a long process. “The reagents and consumables needed to do the testing have a lifespan of 21 days after they arrive here. We could not order earlier as it would have expired due to us moving,” he said.  He added that they have now ordered a batch from a company called Thermo Fisher, which has branches all over the world, including Johannesburg. “It takes them eight weeks from the date of order to make them and it takes three weeks to get them in Namibia, then they need to go through customs. We can at least test 40 DNA samples with the current batch we ordered which cost us N$1.6 million,” he said.

Sad end 
Wasserfall, a resident of Windhoek, went to Walvis Bay in December last year and was reported missing on 10 April by her boyfriend and a friend when she failed to come home after dropping off her son at a friend’s house.  Her alleged remains were found last week Tuesday buried in a shallow grave close to Dunes Mall at Walvis Bay.  
Her friend, Azaan Madisia (28) has been arrested and charged with murder and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

2020-10-13  Eveline de Klerk

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