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No, 24-hour paternity tests not R900 at South African store Clicks

A much-shared post on Facebook tells men that for just R900, they can get a DNA test done at Clicks, a South African retailer.

The post adds that the mother of the child need not be present, suggesting the test can be done stealthily.  

“Gents DNA Test is only R900 at clicks. They don't require baby mama, it can be you and your son or daughter. Results takes 24 hours,” the post reads, urging Facebook users to spread the word.

It has been viewed at least three million times since September 2020, according to data from Facebook’s fact-checking system. It is also a claim that has been circulating for months on social media, as various posts on Twitter show.

But are the claims accurate?

Who’s your daddy?

DNA, an abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid, codes genetic information for the transmission of inherited traits.

Claims around paternity often receive a lot of attention, as Africa Check has discovered in our work in four countries in Africa. In July 2019 we found no data to support a claim in a national daily that “three out of 10 Nigerian men are not biological fathers of their children”.

At the time, a representative for DNA testing firm EasyDNA UK told Africa Check that the majority of paternity tests are done due to mistrust, to resolve conflict or for immigration purposes.

As recently as 24 November 2020, Clicks was asked on Twitter whether it conducted DNA tests, and replied that its clinics “provide only the specimen collection service which is R64.00”.

The store said the specimens are then sent on to Gene Diagnostics, a genetic testing, research and training business. The testing firm can also send you a swab kit to your preferred address and collect the swabs from you.

Gene Diagnostics gives more detail of the process on its website. A small sample of bodily fluid or tissue is collected from a child and the potential father. 

This is done by swabbing the inside of the cheeks, known as buccal swabs. Buccal swabs are “an easier and non-invasive way of obtaining DNA for testing and gives the same results as a blood sample”, the website says.

The specimens are then examined and compared to establish whether or not a man is the biological father of a child. 

The firm says it makes use of 16 marker systems. “In general, exclusion by two or more systems is accepted as exclusion of paternity. Inclusion by all systems confirms paternity with great certainty [of up to 99.99%].”

The tests cost R1,086.75 per person (R2,173.50 to test an alleged father and child), the firm says. The results are available “7-10 days from when we received the samples in the laboratory”. 

Where’s mama?

And can the test be done without the mother’s involvement? Only if the alleged father is the legal guardian of the child, or if the alleged father and the child share the same surname, Gene Diagnostics says

If the alleged father and mother are not married or if the mother is the legal guardian, she has to sign the form requesting a paternity test.

So while there are instances when the mother’s sample is not required, the DNA test results do not take just 24 hours or cost R900 at Clicks, as the social media posts claim. – Africa Check


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