Title page for ETD etd-05232012-113345


Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Evert, Lucinda
Email cindy.evert@gauteng.gov.za
URN etd-05232012-113345
Document Title Unidentified bodies in forensic pathology practice in South Africa : demographic and medico-legal perspectives
Degree MSc
Department Forensic Medicine
Supervisor
Advisor Name Title
Dr S H Rossouw Supervisor
Keywords
  • Regsgeneeskundige Laboratoriums
  • Suid Afrika
  • forensiese omgewing
  • Forensic Pathology Service (FPS)
  • Medico-Legal Laboratories
  • South Africa
Date 2012-04-13
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Unidentified bodies in the forensic setting constitute a global problem. Though this should be of great concern to many governments, very little data on the extent of this phenomenon is available in international literature and few countries require that statistics on the number of unidentified deceased be kept.

To determine the extent of this phenomenon in South Africa, a study into the number of unidentified deceased at the Pretoria Medico-Legal Laboratory and their demographic profile was undertaken. The study has indicated that between 7% and 10% of bodies remain unidentified at the Medico-Legal Laboratory in Pretoria. Publications further indicate that a total of 846 bodies remained unidentified at Medico-Legal Laboratories in Gauteng for the period January 2010 to August 2010.

This number is very high when compared to international literature. Of great concern is the fact that these statistics do not include the cases in which persons die in hospital facilities from natural causes without an identity, which are not referred to the Forensic Pathology Service for investigation. The true extent of the problem may thus be far greater than imagined.

Determining the true extent of this phenomenon in South Africa is therefore important, as these unidentified bodies have many social and economic consequences. Not only are families unaware that their loved ones have passed away, but they are also unable to bury and mourn them.

Unidentified bodies at Medico-Legal Laboratory facilities also impacts on the service delivery capability of the government departments involved in the investigation of such cases. The drafting of additional legislation for the management of unidentified bodies is therefore required.

A need to establish and enforce specific protocols to be followed in the event of unidentified bodies has also been identified. The creation of a National Unidentified Decedent website and DNA database is recommended as they will greatly assist in reducing the number of unidentified bodies throughout South Africa.

It is however only through coordinated efforts and interdepartmental cooperation that these proposals will be successful.

AFRIKAANS : Ongeïdentifiseerde liggame in die forensiese omgewing is ‘n wêreldwye probleem. Alhoewel dit ‘n bron van kommer vir meeste regerings behoort te wees, is baie min data oor die omvang van hierdie verskynsel beskikbaar in die internationale literatuur, met min lande wat vereis dat amptelike statistieke oor onbekende oorledenes versamel word.

Om die omvang van hierdie verskynsel in Suid Afrika te bepaal, is ‘n studie na die aantal onbekende liggame by die Regsgeneeskundige Laboratorium in Pretoria en hul demografies profiel onderneem . Die studie het getoon dat tussen 7% en 10% van alle liggame wat deur die Regsgeneeskundige Laboratorium in Pretoria opgeneem word, onuitgeken bly. Publikasies dui ook aan dat 846 liggame ongeïdentifiseerd was by Regsgeneeskundige Laboratoriums vir die tydperk Januarie 2010 to Augustus 2010.

Hierdie getal is aansienlik hoër as díe wat in die internasionale literatuur gesien word. ‘n Groot bron van kommer is die feit dat hierdie statistieke nie gevalle insluit waar die oorledene in ‘n hospitaal gesterf het as gevolg van natuurlike oorsake, sonder dat hul identiteit bekend is. Die ware omvang van die problem kan dus veel groter as geskat wees.

Die bepaling van die omvang van hierdie verskynsel in Suid Afrika is belangrik, omdat ongeïdentifiseerde liggame beide sosiale en ekonomiese gevolge het. Nie net is families onbewus daarvan dat hul geliefdes gesterf het nie, maar kry hul ook nie die geleentheid om hul geliefdes te begrawe en oor hul afsterwe te rou nie.

Ongeïdentifiseerde liggame by Regsgeneeskundige Laboratoriums het ook ‘n invloed op die diensleweringskapasiteit van die verskeie staatsdepartemente wat betrokke is by die ondersoek van sulke gevalle. Die opstel van addisionele wetgewing wat die bestuur van ongeïdentifiseerde liggame reguleer is dus nodig.

Die behoefte aan spesifieke protokolle vir die hantering van sulke gevalle is ook geïdentifiseer. Daar word verder aangeraai dat ‘n Nasionale Onuitgekende Liggaam webwerf en DNS databasis geskep word in ‘n poging om die aantal ongeïdentifiseerde liggame in Suid Afrika te verminder.

Dit is egter slegs deur middel van gekoördineerde pogings en interdepartmentele samewerking wat hierdie voorstelle sukses sal behaal.

Copyright © 2011, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria

Please cite as follows:

Evert, L 2011, Unidentified bodies in forensic pathology practice in South Africa : demographic and medico-legal perspectives, MSc dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05232012-113345 / >

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