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WC govt gets refrigeration containers to accommodate unidentified bodies

Space at these facilities has become an issue since there are more than 490 unidentified bodies being stored in mortuary freezers in the province.

FILE: Forensic scientist Craig Keyes (C) and two forensic students from Wits University take an unidentified body for examination on 3 March 2019 in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Health Department on Wednesday said it had three refrigeration containers to help accommodate the overflow of bodies at mortuaries.

Space at these facilities has become an issue since there are more than 490 unidentified bodies being stored in mortuary freezers in the province.

Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said according to the law, a body may be kept for a maximum of 30 days.

The South African Police Service must track relatives of a deceased person and inform them where the body is being kept.

Van Der Heever added there were more than 600 unclaimed boxes of ashes at the Salt River mortuary alone, some dating back to 2012.

He said a lot of families didn't report missing people.

"There are also a number of people who moved here and passed on, and their families might not be aware that they've passed on.""