NAIROBI, Kenya, August 29 – Pending murder cases that have often been delayed due to backlog in sample analysis at the government chemist are now set to be concluded within a year following the acquisition of a state-of-the-art 3500xL Genetic Analyzer.
The equipment offers a shorter average run time of about 45 minutes. As a result, it can expeditiously analyze several DNA samples on evidential material collected from crime scenes.
Officials said the analyzer, which is in all the three government chemists in country – Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu – has enhanced the laboratory’s capacity by thirty percent.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, who launched the new equipment on Thursday at the Government Chemist in Nairobi said the Chemist now has the capacity to serve Kenya and the region.
“We have been trying to find the best solutions to our challenges in the criminal investigation. It is no secret that we have some fairly sensitive but unresolved murder cases in our country and the acquisition of this machine is one of the first steps towards the achievement of our objectives in this field,” the CS said.
“We will invest more resources in acquiring more sophisticated equipment here at the headquarters as well as the Kisumu and Mombasa branches.”
He said the government plans to establish another branch that will serve the Northern region of the country.
The Government Chemist was in October last year moved to the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government in a strategic move aimed at strengthening the institutional relationship with the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the time the move was part of the government’s efforts to reform the criminal justice system.
According to the Government Chemist Ali Gakweli, the new genetic analyzer has an enhanced throughput, which means faster data generation with 24 capillary arrays compared to 16 in the previous equipment enabling it to process 24 samples at a time, hence shorter run times.
It is also customized with an ultramodern system of components and software that maximizes information recovery even from degraded DNA samples.
“This will ultimately expedite access to justice through quick conviction of criminals and, equally importantly, exoneration of innocent individuals,” Matiangi said.
The forensic biology section at the Government Chemist has been struggling with a backlog of samples, most of which are directly connected to various dragged out criminal and civil court cases.
Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said with an advanced genetic analyzer, justice will be expedited for victims of crime.
“The main beneficiary is the National Police Service. It is going a long way to resolve most of our unresolved cases in court and increase the speed of our investigations on pending cases,” the police boss said.