By Yaseen Kippie
An increase in violent crimes in the Western Cape is the main factor contributing to the backlog of postmortem procedures at state mortuaries. According to the Western Cape Department of Health’s Dr Sadiq Karim, they have seen a 25% increase in case loads at mortuaries across the province, especially in metropoles, with a 56% increase from last year.
Dr Karim says the provincial department of health cannot cope with the cases as a result of a lack of skilled pathologists to perform postmortems.
“We don’t have enough forensic pathology officers. They have been scarce for years. As a result, we are not able to get bodies through for Janazahs to take place, because now people have to wait 7 to 11 days for the body.”
The department is trying to appoint more forensic officers on contract, but that they are very rare to find.
On average, pathologists are required to do 250 postmortems per year, but in the Western Cape, due to the scarcity of skilled workers and due to increase in the violent nature of society, pathologists are required to do 1000 postmortems per year.
Dr Karim says the call is for the community to remain patient, while the Department of Health does what it can to appoint additional staff. The MJC is expected to meet with department officials this week to find a solution for Muslim families, waiting for the bodies of their deceased relatives.