Backlog at KZN mortuaries impacting criminal justice system - rights groups

At least 80 unidentified bodies are beginning to decompose at the Pinetown and Fort Napier mortuaries as they have been unattended to for six months.

Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

DURBAN – The Medical Rights Advocacy Network says that the increasing backlog of bodies piling up at KwaZulu-Natal mortuaries is having an impact on the criminal justice system.

At least 80 unidentified bodies are beginning to decompose at the Pinetown and Fort Napier mortuaries as they have been unattended to for six months.

The network says the crisis began five years ago when a senior pathologist resigned after being threatened for speaking out and was replaced by a junior staffer.

It says that most of those tasked with conducting autopsies are not qualified and that the DNA samples on bodies are not being added onto the SAPS system.

Activist Mary de Haas says that there are only nine pathologists operating in KwaZulu-Natal.

“There are serious allegations about undertakers paying money to receive bodies, bribery, extortions and selling of body parts which is another serious allegation.”

The Democratic Alliance’s Dr Imraan Keeka says there’s no clear plan on how to clear the backlog.

“Another contributing factor that we’ve been informed of is that South Africa Police Service officials are not always available to assisting the DNA collection in identifying the bodies.”