Bodies pile up in Cape Town's mortuaries

Cape Town's mortuaries can't keep up with autopsies due to gang violence and financial pressures meaning families cannot afford to bury their loved ones. Courtesy of #DSTV403

CAPE TOWN - Cape Town's mortuaries can't keep up with autopsies due to gang violence.

This, coupled with family members who can't pay for burials, means the bodies are piling up.

READ: Poorer Cape communities 'easy target for gangs'

Almost 500 unidentified bodies are being stored in refrigerated shipping containers at the Salt River and Tygerberg mortuaries. 

Kevin Jones, the Western Cape Pathology regional manager, said last year they had 390 cases that were admitted.

"This year we have now gone up to 469 cases, so that's about 79 case increase just from 2018 to 2019.

"So 212 of those cases were murder cases which is about 45 percent of our case admission."

Space isn't the only problem -- there also aren't enough pathologists to perform autopsies. 

READ: Murders in Cape Town on the rise

"We are running on 10 pathologists here at the Tygerberg facility. If you take those 10, they have other functions that they need to perform like typing up the post mortem report.

"They also need to attend court and basically give evidence to the course of death."

There are plans to build a new mortuary which is expected to accommodate another 150 bodies.

But if gang violence continues the way it has, this, too, won't be enough.


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