Questions To Forensic Scientist Innocent Makasa

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Innocent Makasa in Cape Town
Innocent Makasa in Cape Town

Molecular science, anthropology, toxicology, interpersonal and managerial skills, a problem solver and a critical thinker simply say that your job is by no means an easy prospect.  With this in mind,

 

  1. Besides hard work, dedication and a high degree of intelligence what else does a person need for this career?

 

Everything else comes after common sense. Then time management and dedication to duty. This career path requires that you know and master five important sciences in depth; Pathology, Molecular Biology, Anthropology, Toxicology and Biostatistics. Most of the time you are studying rather than reading, unfortunately you have fewer friends and attend fewer social functions.It is highly traumatizing work that necessitates one be strong psychologically, avoid involving emotions in the work, stick to science and be objective. 

You don’t know when people are being killed, so you are expected to remain as sober minded as possible even when you are off duty, and must always be within reach.

 

  1. On a typical day what might your tasks include?

 

  • Death/crime scene investigations (medical –legal investigations)
  • Driving under the influence of drugs/Drug induced sexual assault case investigations (toxicological examination)
  • Sexual assault/defilement/rape investigations (DNA analysis)
  • Human remains identification in mass disasters ( forensic anthropology and DNA analysis)
  • Paternal and maternal DNA analysis (mainly in civil cases involving parental disputes)
  • Presentation of evidence in court ( expert witness)

 

  1. You must deal with a lot of confidential and sensitive information. Does this mean you take some kind of oath in this profession?

 

We are under oath and in some cases the breach of forensic oath result in a jail or custodial sentence, especially issues to do with people’s DNA results and the information that is associated with it. The Law in Zambia is not yet well developed in this respect, but I know we are moving towards that.

 

  1. How easy is it to be abreast of trends in your field (in Zambia in particular)?

 

Zambia is just joining the other countries in issues to do with medical-legal investigations; we are in our infancy stage and have a lot to learn and a lot to do. The public wants us to be the CSI they watch in movies, which is highly dramatized and fictitious. One can just imagine how frustrating things can be, to be judged against the standards of fictitious movies.

 

  1. What would you like to improve, to change or start happening to make work easier for you and others following the same career?

 

To start with there is nothing to improve upon, currently in this field. We are starting everything from ground zero. I don’t even expect my work to be any easier during this pioneering period. We have to work on the legal frame work, people’s behavior towards crime scene inversion, the establishment of decent and acceptable Forensic Laboratories; which I am glad to say, the Government has prioritized.

 

  1. Who is your favorite scientist and why?

 

Edward Locard is my favorite because he was the very first to start this wonderful field, and made us believe in the importance of forensic science through his popular principle of exchange; the Locard’s principle of exchange. This has been the basic principle of Forensic Science since 1934. To date we are still using this principle coined by one of our greatest fathers whose shoulders we are all riding on.

 

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