Thursday, 5 November 2015

Hundreds of bodies lie unclaimed in city mortuaries

Nearly 200 bodies have been unclaimed from state mortuaries around the Tshwane metro in the past three years.

And throughout Gauteng, more than 4 000 bodies were unidentified or unclaimed during that period, and though there had been a decline in the past, the numbers were showing growth which had officials worried.

Gauteng MEC for health and social development Qedani Mahlangu said there were various reasons for the unidentified bodies. “The main reasons include: lack of authentic identification documentation; foreign nationals and South Africans from other provinces who travel without ID documents; and socio-economic reasons, including resource constraints for burial for families,” she said.

“From 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013, mortuaries had 1 603 unidentified and 242 unclaimed bodies, from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014, 1 254 unidentified and 334 unclaimed and from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015, 1 272 unidentified and 403 unclaimed. In the period under review, Pretoria had 181 unclaimed bodies, Springs 203, Roodepoort 145 and Johannesburg 119.

Jack Bloom, DA Gauteng shadow MEC for health said this showed the Gauteng health department had been struggling since 2006 to develop an internet-based system that could assist people with identifying bodies. “According to the MEC, the Gauteng forensic pathology ‘is currently developing a comprehensive mortuary management system targeting January 2016 for completion with first phase piloting for February 2016,” said Bloom.

The DA hoped that the internet system was implemented sooner rather than later to give relatives looking for missing loved ones a central database, rather than having to visit each and every mortuary around the country, which was very traumatic and time-consuming.

Thursday 5 November 2015


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