Government has turned down a motion by Kgosi Oscar Mosielele of Moshupa region that called for formulation of a policy that will make it compulsory for a DNA test to be conducted on every child to avoid the frequent court cases over paternity.
When addressing members of the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi this week, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Setlhabelo Modukanele, said, “You may recall that Kgosi Mosielele tabled this motion during the 7th Meeting of the 4th Ntlo ya Dikgosi in October 2021. My Ministry’s position in relation to the question has not changed. Whilst my Ministry supports the legal position that all children have the right to know both their biological parents and to be cared for by both, whether born in or out of wedlock, our considered view is that, policies must be crafted to address challenges on the ground and not for the avoidance of court cases.”
Modukanele said that it would therefore be prudent if the policy may be considered by the Ministry responsible for civil registration and citizenship matters.
He further said that in terms of Botswana law, every citizen has a right to approach Botswana courts on any matter they are aggrieved of. “Consequently, a number of factors exist, making it difficult to make a compulsory policy for paternity tests to be made on every child at birth; A paternity test requires the collection of samples from both child and alleged parent and budgetary issues (who bears the costs) , Consequently, this means that the collection of one’s DNA sample requires volunteerism on their part. (who is going to force and why should they be forced)”
He added that there is currently no legal process, such as a DNA bank, where Government banks the DNA profile of every citizen to make the DNA’s readily available for comparison.
Modukanele added that until such an institution is established it will not be prudent to make paternity test compulsory on every child. “This is why compulsory DNA testing must be done through the Courts of Law, which have the power to issue compulsory orders for alleged fathers to submit their DNA for the paternity tests,” he explained.
The Assistant Minister said that, in the event there is a case of this nature at the Customary Courts, the matter can be referred to the Magistrate courts who have powers to issue Compulsory Orders. “In that case, Mr Chairman, the motion that this Honorable House requests Government to formulate a policy that will make it compulsory for a paternity test to be run on every child to avoid the frequent court cases over paternity is not supported,” he concluded.