Gauteng state mortuaries have had 2366 unclaimed and unidentified bodies since March last year.
This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
The breakdown is as follows from April 2017 to end-October 2018:
- Unidentified bodies – 2287
- Unclaimed bodies – 79
This is 8.5% of the total number of 27 737 bodies stored in the mortuaries over this period.
According to Ramokgopa, the three major causes of unnatural deaths that require a postmortem in state mortuaries are shootings, motor vehicle accidents and stab wounds.
I am concerned by the high number of unidentified and unclaimed bodies.
It is tragic that many families do not know the fate of their loved ones because they have been buried anonymously after suffering a violent death.
I suspect that some of the 21 missing Life Esidimeni patients suffered this fate because they died and were not identified at a mortuary.
There should be an internet site with controlled access so that people can try and identify those who have gone missing and are likely dead.
But most of all, effective action needs to be taken to decrease the high number of violent deaths in Gauteng.
This requires a professional police force with adequate resources to combat the intolerable level of crime in our province.