Mortuaries in Gauteng recorded nearly 900 unclaimed bodies last year, the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) revealed on Thursday.
“There was a slight decrease in the number of unclaimed and unidentified bodies in the 2020/2021 financial year, which can be attributed to Covid-19 lockdown,” said GDoH.
“In the 2020/2021 financial year, there were 898 unclaimed and unidentified bodies recorded, which was lower than 1 173 recorded in the 2019/2020 financial year, and 1 117 recorded in the 2018/2019 financial year.”
The GDoH said it plans to finalise – by the end of the year – the development of an online system, which will assist in the identification of unclaimed and unidentified bodies at public mortuaries.
Regulations to the National Health Act relating to the management of human remains stipulate that when a body is not identified within 30 days after death.
Thereafter the body becomes the responsibility of the government, which handles the arrangement of a pauper’s burial.
Unclaimed bodies are buried in marked graves, however, should a family show up after the burial, the body can be exhumed.
“The Gauteng Forensic Pathology Information Management System (FPSIMS) will provide various services that will include recording, tracking, and reporting demographic data of the deceased persons, generate autopsy, and toxicology reports, amongst others,” said GdoH.
The GDoH said the implementation of this system will reduce the number of unclaimed and unidentified bodies in government mortuaries which continues to increase.