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16 October 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Kyla Dooley, runner-up in this year’s Three-minute thesis competition, wants to pursue a career working alongside police enforcement, using her knowledge of forensics to solve criminal cases and convict perpetrators.

When rapes and sexual assaults are committed, DNA evidence can play a large role in convicting the offenders. DNA evidence collected from sexual crimes can, according to Kyla Dooley, often be tricky to analyse.

Kyla has just completed her master’s degree, specialising in Forensic Genetics, at the University of the Free State (UFS). She not only thrives in this field – graduating at the top of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences in 2018 when she was awarded the Dean’s Medal – but her work also brought her the runner-up position in this year’s Three-minute thesis competition. 

She talked about her research on the use of male-specific DNA in the analysis of DNA evidence collected after crimes of a sexual nature have been committed.

Explaining her research, Kyla elaborates: “In most cases, the victim is female, while the offender is male. Therefore, the evidence is often a mixture of male and female DNA and this can make it difficult to analyse the male DNA and match it to a male suspect.”

She believes the solution to this is to target male-specific DNA in analysis. “This eliminates all female DNA and simplifies the process,” says Kyla.

“Unfortunately, male-specific DNA technology is not currently used in South Africa, because the DNA regions tested to date haven’t shown much success in distinguishing between males in our population,” Kyla points out.

“The goal is now to use DNA evidence, to match it to a suspect, and have the confidence that it came from him and only him. Or else defence lawyers could argue that it came from someone else in the population,” she says.

Improving DNA evidence

Therefore, Kyla’s research focused on evaluating a new group of male-specific DNA regions, which are to be tested yet, to see if it would be a viable option for use in South Africa. 

“I achieved this by collecting DNA samples from men on campus, processing them to obtain DNA profiles, and then determining how well these regions can distinguish between the men. The results of my research demonstrate the potential of these DNA regions to improve the use of DNA evidence when investigating sexual assaults in South Africa,” says Kyla.

She believes her study can play a role in increasing the conviction rate of sexual offenders, which could lead to a reduction in South Africa’s alarmingly high rape statistic. 

“Everyone in South Africa is affected by this horrific crime in some way or another, so the benefits of this would be widespread,” she says.

Solving crimes

Although Kyla will one day pursue further studies, she is ready for the next stage in her life. “I am in the process of applying for jobs and getting ready to dive into the real world. I’ll definitely be pursuing a career working alongside police enforcement to solve criminal cases and convict perpetrators of such crimes. Working for the NYPD in the USA or Scotland Yard in the UK is the ultimate dream job,” she says.

“I chose my field not only because the forensics world absolutely fascinates me, but also because I want to make a difference. I want to play a role in getting justice for those affected by violent crimes. One simple process in a forensic scientist’s everyday routine could be a life changer for a victim of crime,” believes Kyla.

 

 


News Archive

Democracy and political tolerance truly thrive during Qwaqwa Campus SRC elections
2016-09-16

Description: 2017 SR Qwaqwa  Tags: 2017 SR Qwaqwa

The newly-elected SRC President of the Qwaqwa
Campus, Njabulo Mwali (left), being congratulated
by his predecessor, Paseka Sikhosana.
Ph
oto: Thabiso Gamede

Voter turnout during the recent SRC elections among the best in the country at over 60%

The 2016-2017 Qwaqwa Campus SRC elections have once again proven that democracy and political tolerance are truly thriving on the Qwaqwa Campus. This was evidenced by the calm surrounding the highly contested elections ever.

According to Mandla Ndlangamandla, Electoral Committee Chairperson, this year’s elections were highly contentious, yet with a high level of tolerance.

"We only had two political structures, namely the South African Democratic Student Movement (Sadesmo) and the South African Student Congress (Sasco), but the level of engagement was really commendable,” he said.

“Of the 4 200 registered students on campus, more than 2 500 cast their votes in their quest to influence student leadership and governance to advance student aspirations," said Ndlangamandla during the handover ceremony.

In accepting the leadership baton from his predecessor, Paseka Sikhosana, the new President, Njabulo Mwali, said his immediate goal was to unite all students behind the new leadership.

In acknowledging the role student governance can play in developing the campus, the Acting Campus Principal, Teboho Manchu, said the campus was proud to have a student leadership that would always keep the interests of their constituency on top of their agenda.

“We will definitely work hand-in-hand with the new student government. In case of any disagreements, please note that you have the right to take up any such matters with the top management of the university in order to advance the entire student body,” he added.

The 2016-2017 Qwaqwa Campus SRC is as follows:

LIST OF SRC MEMBERS 2016-2017

Elective Portfolios

 

Name and Surname

Portfolio

Njabulo Mwali

President General

Siyabonga Ngubo

Deputy President

Joy Mapule Motloung

Secretary General

Bongela Nyandeni

Treasurer General

Mpumelelo Tshabalala

Politics and Transformation

Nomcebo Mqushulu

Media and Publicity

Ntokozo Michael Masiteng

Student Development and Environmental Affairs

   

Ex Officio Portfolios

 

Khulani Mhlongo

Arts and Culture

Polaki Mazibuko

Academic Affairs

Ntokozo Mbali Thango

Sports Affairs

Motlatsi Lisley Lebona

Religious Affairs

Sandile Ntamane

Residence Affairs

Itumeleng Chefter

RAG Comm. and Dialogue

Thulebona Thomas Khumalo

Off-campus

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