Speech by Minister Faith Muthambi at the forensic investigation book launch

11 September 2015

11 Sep 2015

Programme director and the Moderator
The foreword author, advocate Gerrie Nel
Prof Rudolph Zinn, and Dr Sethlomamaru Dintwe, editors for this book
Other Contributing editors:
Dr Bernadine Benson
Mr Trevor Budram
Mr Antony Cooper
Dr Juanida Horne
Mr Gideon James
Mr Jason Jordan 
Dr Gerard Labuschagne
Mr Hendrik Lochner
Mr Solomon Manamela
Mr John Mokwena
Ms Yogindaran Naidoo
Mr Joe Smith
Dr   Peter Schmitz
Mr Marcel van der Walt
Mr Johan van Graan
Ms Teresa van Niekerk
Publishers house Juta
Ladies and Getleman

I am  pleased , honoured , and humbled to be  invited for  this book launch, not often politicians get invited for this type of events. I must say if I was not a politician, perhaps I will have been a forensic investigator. Forensic investigations has always been something that fascinated me. At one point after finishing my law studies, I was tempted to take forensic investigation as career path. Well that did not happened, and I opted for politics.  


When I was asked to speak at this occasion I was both excited and a bit apprehensive. However, my initial hesitation soon faded and was replaced by enthusiasm for the task at hand. What especially excites me about this book is its focus on good governance and accountability. Both these issues are a priority of government and we have actively put in place measures to ensure and improve good governance and accountability.

Everyone in this room is in no doubt familiar with the work done by the Directorate Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), as well as the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), which was established by law as an independent statutory body that fights corruption through investigations and litigation.

Our armoury is further strengthened by the Asset Forfeiture Unit, within the National Prosecuting Authority, which is tasked to seize assets of people involved in crime or corruption. South Africa became one of the first countries in the world which decided to elevate this important function to political level. Through the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, we have witnessed the first ever signing of performance agreements at political level, between the President and Ministers. These agreements have also mirrored the accountability of Director’s General and departments. Taking accountability to another level.

This book and countless others that have been written in recent years is an affirmation that Africa is on the cutting edge of the knowledge economy. I am also confident that our academics, our scientists and our engineers are amongst the world’s best. 

Our brightest and best are at the cutting edge but we must do more as a country to share this knowledge. One of the easiest ways of doing this is through books and the written word. 

I am therefore glad that this book is being launched during National Book Week. Our country has a dire need to establish a culture or reading, for with a culture of reading comes a culture of learning and knowledge. The institution like Unisa must be congratulated for being catalyst in producing academics for the continent at large, and in the process contributing to body knowledge. I also must congratulate Juta as publishing house for their innovative revenue sharing model with authors and contributing editors. This model has encouraged many authors to enter the space of writing books.       

Colleagues, allow me to share a few notes from the book which further expands on its aims.

The authors of Forensic Investigation: Legislative Principles and Investigative Practices aim to meet the needs of this field by examining how forensic investigations should be conducted in South Africa, with reference to local legislative principles and scientific processes.

Forensic Investigation: Legislative Principles and Investigative Practices commences by covering aspects such as the constitutional basis for public and private policing, the investigation process, and the characteristics of a good investigator. The book highlights the basic concepts of investigation and then proceeds to examine more sophisticated specialised aspects, such as medico-legal evidence, DNA, and policing in a cyber-world.

The work also features more recent developments in the field, such as analysing the behaviour of offenders and the choices they make during the commission of crimes

Forensic investigation and detection practices require greater sophistication and training. In addition, investigations must be properly conducted and the work of prosecutors adequately supported in order to improve conviction rates .The improvement of this rate also requires strengthening the link between forensic investigators and prosecutors. It is my hope that the book like this will further strengthen work done by the forensic investigators and prosecutors. 

Continuous focus must therefore be given to the improvement of the capacity and quality of criminal investigations. Improving the capacity of the forensic to investigate crime requires allocating sufficient resources to detection and developing the skills and techniques of the relevant detective personnel involved. There is also a need to ensure improved management of investigations and information as well as technical support provided. And it is my hope that this book will do just that.

It is common cause that in a competitive environment everyone wants to be seen as the best. It may not be all bad because this may have a positive impact on the quality of work produced. However, this can creates a challenge especially for the forensic investigators because the type of work that they do requires investigators to work together and assist each other in an attempt to realise a common goal of ridding South Africa of lawlessness. I reemphasis there is growing need for forensic investigators whether private or public to work together. At times you find different investigation agencies investigating the same individual, yet we are not aware.  There is growing need of co-existence.

There are certain forensic investigation firms which are almost monopolizing forensic investigation in South Africa. We know who the big fishes are and unfortunately this thing of unhealthy and undesired competition tends to supersede the quality of work that the small firms can do.  We have responsibility to guard against all these.

Career path,
As publishers, government, and private practitioners we have responsibility to sell the forensic investigation as career path to the upcoming graduates.
Many personnel in SAPS either become detectives because it is the only promotion available to them or they leave the detective environment because the only career opportunities that exist for them are outside of the detective environment.  We have a joint responsibility as guests in this room to change the status quo As I close,

I want to thank the authors for their hard work in writing: Forensic Investigation: Legislative Principles and Investigative Practices. This book is sure to become a must read for people in the field of forensic science.  

I would also like to encourage other South Africans to get writing.  Everyone has a story to tell.  The African tradition of telling stories which lives on from generation to generation is part of our heritage. Our stories are often intensely personal and tell of our journey through life. 

I thank you.

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