Government overwhelmed with bodies piling up in morgues

As the number of unclaimed and unidentified bodies in government mortuaries skyrockets, the Gauteng Department of Health has called on families and relatives of missing persons to visit forensic pathology service mortuaries in the province to check that their loved ones are not among the unclaimed and unidentified bodies.

Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, MEC for Health and Wellness, says there are 938 unclaimed and unidentified bodies in 11 mortuaries (FPS ) that have not yet been picked up by families and relatives. There are 938 unclaimed and unidentified bodies in 11 FPS mortuaries that have not been picked up by families and relatives. The FPS mortuaries include Bronkhorstspruit (8), Ga Rankuwa (69), Pretoria (263), Germiston (127), Heidelberg (9), Sebokeng (94), Springs (49), Carletonville (45), Diepkloof (49), Johannesburg (187) and Roodepoort (38), said MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko.

MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko added that it was worrying that the number of unclaimed and identified bodies was increasing day by day. There are families who are looking for their loved ones and do not know where they are. We encourage them to visit FPS to make sure their loved ones are not among the unclaimed bodies, and if they are, they can give them a proper burial, the MEC added A family member or relative who wishes to identify their relative should bring the original identity card (ID), ID of the deceased or the birth certificate if it is a child. If the deceased is a foreign national, a passport, certificate of asylum or a letter from the country of origin confirming who the deceased is and to whom the remains should be delivered is required.

If the body of a deceased is not identified or claimed within seven days, the fingerprints will be forwarded to the South African Police Service Criminal Records Centre (SAPS) for identification and matching with Home Affairs records. The MEC further advised that if the identification is successful, the next of kin will be notified through the SAPS’s Investigating Officer of the final release and burial or cremation of the deceased.

If the body is still unidentified 30 days after all identification options have been exhausted, including the use of fingerprints, the deceased will be buried as part of a pauper’s burial.

Written by Thapelo Magola

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