The Health Department says there are two-thousand-366 unclaimed and unidentified bodies at state mortuaries since March last year. It says the main causes of these deaths are caused by gun shots, stab wounds and car accidents.
Since March last year, state mortuaries are have been hosting filled two-thousand-366 corpses whose identities are not known, and no once has come forward to claim them.
It’s hoped a controlled website that will be set up will help with the identification process. The Gauteng Health Department if a body is unidentified or not claimed after 30, they’re given a pauper’s burial.
The Department’s Acting Deputy Director General of Hospital Services Dr Medupi Modisane says, “The first is to try and identify, get any paper, documentation on the deceased if it’s available. We use our own internal system. We have a communication department that tries to contact whoever is available. If we fail we then publish in the daily newspaper. People can then respond. We work together with the SAPS to help trace the relatives. Unfortunately a small percentage of the victims are not identified.”
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has accused the provincial government of not doing enough to locate the families of the deceased.
The party’s Jack Bloom says, “There could be a lot of detective work done. They could work with International bodies like the Red Cross. I think we could have this website which has been a promise for many years. It’s high time that is up and running, and just to be more public. It’s all very tragic deaths. With little more effort we could identify more of these if we have to extrapolate the number. This is more than 2000 in Gauteng over an 18 month period. If you did that for the whole of South Africa that’s more than 10000 unidentified bodies.”
However, Dr Modisane says they’re trying their best, but it’s difficult because not everyone who dies in Gauteng is a local resident.
“Because of the migrant nature of the province a lot of unidentified bodies are not from this province per say so the challenge is to reach next of kin within the country in other provinces. Quite a significant number are outside the country. So a website like that would actually come in handy. We try to get that up and running,”says Modisane.
The department has not yet given a time frame as to when the website will be up and running.
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