“In a comparative analysis, in the period between January and October 2013, we have recognised that the number of unclaimed and unidentified bodies has slightly increased.”
The department had noted and identified migration to urban areas as one of the contributing factors to the problem.
“People reside in squatter camps where there are no fixed addresses, and we have also found that the majority of these people are foreign nationals and people from other provinces, which makes it difficult to trace their loved ones,” he said.
“In addition to this, we have also realised the common problems of financial constraints — where family members are able to identify the bodies but struggle to make the ends meet in laying their love ones to rest and ultimately leave it to the state to bury.
“The other challenge is with the grossly mutilated, decomposed bodies and bones where fingerprints cannot be taken to identify the deceased.”
The Gauteng forensic pathology service was developing a comprehensive mortuary management system to speedily resolve cases of unclaimed corpses.
“The system will also enable the department to produce and keep electronic records and reports on unclaimed and unidentified bodies.”
The first phase of the system will be completed by the end of June 2014 and will be fully functioning by the end of March 2015.