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South African Academy of Forensic Sciences (SAAFS)

SAAFS is a non-profit company (NPC) that represents forensic science practitioners in South Africa and Internationally. It represents practitioners from all forensic science fields and all sectors.

SAAFS is the first formal professional academy of forensic science in South Africa and the need for such an organization has been expressed by several stakeholders and at several forums over the past decades.

Over time there were many discussion forums and formal meetings (e.g. conferences, workshops) where sector wide needs were expressed and included the constitution of a formal platform where forensic scientists could engage with each other and discuss the pertinent issues related to our sector at the national level. As international forensic sciences bodies were founded and started to set standards at the international level, this need became more urgent for the forensic science sector in South Africa as we wished to have national standards and guidelines in place that is customized to our collective national needs. The report by Heyns (2014) on the resolutions taken at the SAPS Forensic Services Conferences indicated that one of the resolutions accepted during the 2013 and 2014 conferences was resolution 2/2013, articulated as quoted below:

“Encourage and create forums for criminal investigators, detectives, forensic examiners, academia and service providers of forensic products to engage and interface on forensic science and related issues in order improve the standards applied in the forensic value chain and to make a positive impact in the investigation of crime”

The above resolution thus supported the creation of forums where forensic scientists from all sectors could “engage and interface on forensic science and related issues in order to improve the standards applied in the forensics value chain”. This resolution by SAPS echoed the calls by others and the sentiment was embraced throughout the forensic science sector at the national level.

It became evident that all stakeholders had to be included if such a platform or body was founded. A sector wide call was circulated via personal networks within the forensic science sector to host a meeting in 2016 to obtain input as to what the need, aim, etc. of such a national body would be.

“SAAFS is an academy established to represent forensic scientists as a professional group in South Africa. SAAFS will advocate to put the science back in forensic science, to ensure and the collective dignity of the forensic scientists – thereby also creating public trust in the role of forensic science in the justice system. SAAFS will seek to actively engage with similar African and other international associations to support, share and encourage its members to conduct themselves and to practice in accordance with the highest global standards.” M. Heyns, A. Olckers & G. Saayman (2019): SAAFS: the establishment of a representative body for forensic science in South Africa, Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, DOI: 10.1080/00450618.2019.1568569

SAAFS has the following objectives:

  • To promote and protect the interests of the Academy and its members, to encourage the development and maintenance of forensic scientific and ethical standards, to encourage research in the forensic sciences, to encourage cooperation and to deal with all such matters that may affect their common interests in respect of forensic sciences.
  • To promote, support or oppose as may be deemed expedient, any legislative or other measures affecting the interests of the Academy or its members.
  • To confer with the Government, Provincial Administration or local authorities and their departments and all other interested bodies of concern to, or likely to be of concern to the Academy.
  • To be affiliated to any Association or organization as may be decided upon by the Academy from time to time.
  • To collect and disseminate information likely to be of use to the Academy’s members.
  • To promote a high standard of quality and assurance in the forensic science professions, including certification of forensic scientists.
  • To promote the forensic science profession, by advertisement, publicity campaigns, exhibitions, or other appropriate means.
  • To acquire, either by purchase, lease or otherwise, and to sell, let, mortgage or otherwise deal with or dispose of any movable or immovable property.
  • To establish, maintain or assist in the establishment or maintenance of any fund or committee formed or which may be formed for the protection of the interests of the Academy or its members, or for the protection and benefit of employees, or for the benefit and protection of the joint interests of employers and employees in the forensic science profession, provided that no fund which is not subject to control under any law shall be established until the rules governing such fund have been approved by the Registrar of Companies.
  • To do all other lawful things as may appear to be in the interests of the Academy and its members.