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At the time of the development of the Biomedical Forensic Science programme, there was no specific training course for biomedical forensic scientists in South Africa.  An objective of the proposed programme was therefore to develop a group of competent, professional personnel to perform biomedical forensic science examinations and research, which will assist the courts of law to ensure crime resolution.  The reasons for the introduction of such a course were: popular demand demonstrated by the increasing number of enquires received from prospective students; increased awareness in Forensic Science due to recent technological advances and heightened media attention; the lack of a course of this nature anywhere in Africa; the high levels of violent crime; the huge backlog in the judicial system due to insufficient numbers of appropriately-skilled professionals in both government institutions and the private sector; too few adequately trained forensic professionals to be expert investigators and witnesses in court cases; the availability of existing resources such as a variety of technology platforms; an appropriate training laboratory and skilled technical and academic staff in the Departments of the Faculty of Health Sciences; state and private institutions investing large sums of money in expanding their existing forensic services due to heightened public awareness and pressure, and ongoing violent crime.

·        popular demand demonstrated by the increasing number of enquires received from prospective students;

·        increased awareness in Forensic Science due to recent technological advances and heightened media attention;

·        the lack of a course of this nature anywhere in Africa;

·        the high levels of violent crime;

·        the huge backlog in the judicial system due to insufficient numbers of appropriately-skilled professionals in both government institutions and the private sector;

·        too few adequately trained forensic professionals to be expert investigators and witnesses in court cases;

·        the availability of existing resources such as a variety of technology platforms;

·        an appropriate training laboratory and skilled technical and academic staff in the Departments of the Faculty of Health Sciences;

·        state and private institutions investing large sums of money in expanding their existing forensic services due to heightened public awareness and pressure, and

·        ongoing violent crime.

The focus was on producing a forensic scientist who would be able to work independently in state, private or research laboratories both in and outside academic institutions. Amongst others the graduate would be able to compile a medico-legal report, give evidence in court, or pursue an academic and/or research career in Forensic Science (including further study at a doctoral level).

The course envisaged would recognise that the forensic needs are broadly African and not solely South African, thus articulating the university’s strategic goal associated with becoming an Afropolitan university. We believe it is essential for forensic professionals to be trained locally in order to be sensitive to the needs of Africa and its diverse people, customs, rituals and diseases. Further, it also articulates the university strategic goal of contributing to social reconstruction and development - specifically drawing on the potential strengths of the proposed programme to address violent crime and a seriously back-logged judicial system.

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