16 Nov 2016 – Forensic Science Sector Meeting

A historical meeting was convened in Nov 2016 with interested parties practicing in the field of forensic science in South Africa. This was the first ever meeting of practicing forensic scientists from all fields within the country. The aim of the meeting was to assess the need for a formal representative body.

Prior to the meeting a survey was conducted which indicated that all of those surveyed indeed supported the formation of such a body, which was confirmed at the meeting. Most common expectations from the group surveyed were:

  • Regulation and standardisation of the profession
  • Best practice and ethics guidelines
  • Networking and conferences
  • Education and training opportunities

At this meeting the group who attended additional objectives for such a representative body, which were:

  • Database of members
  • National and international information notices
  • Networking within and across professions, e.g. forensic science & law
  • Professional recognition
  • Professional regulation
  • Eventually a South African journal in the field

It was envisaged at this meeting that a continued professional development (CPD) programme would also be instituted for the field. It was recognised that the international trend is the regulation of forensic scientists, and that there is also a similar need in the country. It was eventually also decided to adopt the forensic science fields, as outlined by the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) of the USA, in South Africa.

At the frist meeting in Nov 2016 a Steering Committee (SC) was elected to execute the founding of such a professional organisation. The SC consisted of Antonel Olckers, Marise Heyns, Nick Olivier, Gert Saayman and Jason Jordaan. At this meeting a nod was given to Ryan Blumenthal who was instrumental in moving the process forward which culminated in this meeting. Prior to the founding meeting the steering committee accepted the resignation of Nick Olivier and welcomed Neil Morris as member of the SC. After voting by the entire group present at the Nov 2016 meeting the name of this representative body was voted upon and the majority view was to call it the South African Academy of Forensic Sciences (SAAFS).