Backlog at Forensic Pathology Services causes unusual delays

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has raised concerns following reports from the community that bodies are not being swiftly released from Cape Town mortuaries in time for the customary 24-hr burial procedure in Islam.

A number of families in Cape Town are waiting anxiously for the bodies of deceased, due to delays in finalizing post mortems.

The Western Cape Health Department’s Forensic Pathology Services (FPS) in the Metropole confirmed that it is currently experiencing a very high case load.

“We are in contact with the relevant authorities to try and rectify the situation,” said the chairperson of the Muslim Cemetery Board, Shaykh Riad Fataar.

“We have called for a meeting with the provincial department of health and with the aim of finding solutions to the situation as soon as possible. We urge family members who are waiting for the bodies of their beloved to please have patience with us during this challenging time.”

In a statement, the Forensic Pathology Services said it is currently experiencing very high caseload admission and urged the public to remain patient.

“We are doing everything we can to try and alleviate the pressures currently being experienced at all our Metropole facilities due to a high volume of cases that need to be managed.”

“We are unable to prioritise cases now owing to a number of cases pending at both Metro facilities. And the impact that reorganisation of allocated cases has on the operational flow, and the impact of that reorganization on the families who cases have been allocated but then are delayed if we prioritise.”

“Cases will be allocated and autopsies performed in chronological order on identified cases first. As soon as the situation alleviates we will revert to our long-standing practice of accommodating requests for whatever reason for prioritization. Your understanding and support in this time is greatly appreciated.”

For enquiries or if you just want to know more about the progress being made with the medico-legal management of a loved one, call Tygerberg or Salt River Forensic Pathology Services on the following numbers:

Tygerberg FPS: 021 931 9140

Salt River FPS: 021 447 4915

Also, ensure that you have with you the following documentation when visiting an FPS facility to collect or check on the progress being made in the medico-legal investigation of a loved one:

You will need the Identification Document or Driver’s license of the deceased as well as your own, the identifying individual.

If your own documentation or that of the deceased is lost or stolen,  go to your SAPS investigating officer who must accompany you to the facility to confirm the identity for both yourself as well as the deceased.

In cases of sudden or unexpected death, you should bring all medical documentation/information regarding the deceased.

If the deceased is a baby or a child or under the age of 18, you should also bring the Road to Health Chart (clinic card) of the child/baby with you.

The department said it recognized that the time of bereavement is a stressful and difficult period.

“For this reason, we are doing everything we can to speed up but also streamline the process”.