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How to make sure you don't accidentally destroy evidence at a crime scene

In a country where crime is out of control, it's an unfortunate reality that many South Africans will, at some point, come across the scene of a crime, whether it's a murder, robbery or assault.

And it is a real danger that members of the public may inadvertently destroy evidence or carry it away on their person.

RELATED: DNA evidence and bullet casings could close in on Senzo Meyiwa's murderer

The executive director of the DNA Project experienced this first-hand when her father was murdered in Johannesburg.

Vanessa Lynch founded the non-profit organisation after no evidence could be uplifted because of the contamination caused by those who entered the crime scene before the police arrived.

My father's murderers were never found.

Vanessa Lynch, Founder and executive director - DNA Project

She says the community can play a vital role in preserving evidence, increasing the likelihood that a crime can be solved.

To try and preserve the evidence that clearly has been left behind by the perpetrator is the first port of call.

Vanessa Lynch, Founder and executive director - DNA Project

Whether it is literally standing in a line and holding hands to ensure that nobody is actually going to enter into that crime scene zone near the body if the person has died - obviously if they they need assistance you assist them - and understanding that biological evidence which contains DNA is a very strong form of evidence .

Vanessa Lynch, Founder and executive director - DNA Project

(DNA evidence) It's also very tiny - a hair, saliva blood - all of these things you may not even realise that simply stepping on a piece of chewing gum that might stick to your foot and you might walk away taking the one piece of evidence that's been left behind by a perpetrator.

Vanessa Lynch, Founder and executive director - DNA Project

Lynch says we need to guard against a natural 'rubberneck syndrome' because of our need to satisfy our own curiosity about what has happened.

In the case of an assault, assistance must be provided, but without disturbing any evidence.

If someone's been assaulted, put a blanket around them so that you actually don't transfer your evidence onto theirs or take evidence away

Vanessa Lynch, Founder and executive director - DNA Project

For more of this important conversation, listen here:


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