Monday, 27 June 2016

DNA test exonerates rape suspect

A BULAWAYO man accused of breaking into a woman’s house and raping her, heaved a huge sigh of relief after a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) test exonerated him. 

The DNA test was conducted at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Applied Genetics Testing Centre (AGTC). Rape attracts a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Police pounced on Mr Bubblington Sibanda from New Magwegwe suburb when the victim identified him as the man who raped her. She pointed him out to the police on a busy city street in April, days after reporting the crime. Police sources said the man who raped the woman escaped through a widow after the sex attack.

“The rapist was cut by shards of glass as he was escaping. His blood was splattered on the victim’s T-shirt and curtain. The victim subsequently identified the accused, who comes from the same neighbourhood, in a street leading to the suspect’s arrest,” said a source.

Mr Sibanda was held in remand prison as he vehemently protested his innocence. “Prosecutors ended up requesting a DNA test on the blood samples. The samples didn’t match Mr Sibanda’s and he was released,” said a family source.

Mr Sibanda yesterday confirmed to The Chronicle that he was wrongly arrested for rape. He said he was not comfortable talking about the matter as it was sensitive to him. Mr Sibanda said he was released towards the end of May when Nust submitted the results of the test.

“I’ve spoken to my family about the issue being publicised and we’ve agreed that it shouldn’t be made public. We’ve forgiven her and we want the past to be the past,” he said.
DNA test exonerates rape suspect
Nust’s AGTC chairperson Mr Zephaniah Dhlamini said after conducting the DNA test, the samples proved that Mr Sibanda was not the one who committed the offence.

“The DNA profiles of the curtain and the t-shirt were done. The blood from both came from one person. However, the blood didn’t come from the suspect. Meaning he didn’t rape the woman,” said Mr Dhlamini. He said through DNA profiling, AGTC has also assisted the police in solving many cases.

Mr Dhlamini said DNA testing led to the arrest of three suspects linked to the murder of a security guard at Thorngrove shops last year. “One of the three suspects was found with a tennis shoe that had a blood spot in his house. The blood spot produced a DNA profile that matched with the deceased’s. This placed the owner of the shoe at the crime scene,” said Mr Dhlamini.

He said DNA profiling can be effective if complemented by a compulsory national DNA data base. Mr Dhlamini said the centre can analyse DNA from a crime scene but was having challenges in comparing the samples to suspects as the law requires one to volunteer to have their samples taken.

He cited an incident where a suspected prostitute was killed last year in Paddonhurst suburb saying although they have DNA samples of the suspect, nothing can be done to force the individual to avail themselves for a test.

“A legal framework to enable the establishment of a DNA data base for criminals and habitual offenders convicted of violent crimes such as rape, murder assault among others is needed,” Mr Dhlamini said.

The AGTC centre has in recent years been pivotal in solving cases ranging from disputed paternity to murder in the country. It has revolutionised crime fighting with suspects being nailed on 100 percent irrefutable evidence.