The Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) is making good progress with a R281 million project to replace the Forensic Pathology Services (FPS) laboratory in Salt River. A larger, purpose-built modern forensic pathology facility is being built at the entrance to Groote Schuur Hospital. This project started in July 2017 and is expected to be completed in mid-2019.
Once it is complete, the Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute will provide Level 4 forensic services aimed at extracting, analysing and preserving the integrity of evidence for use by the criminal justice system. This will also help to integrate the work of FPS and the National Health Laboratory Service.
The facility will include 26 autopsy tables – four dissection suites with six tables each, as well as two teaching and training dissection suites. There will be 360 refrigerated body spaces, 180 admission fridges, and 180 dispatch fridges. In addition, the building will be able to accommodate up to 100 visitors to the bereavement centre per day; and up to 10 waiting undertakers. By comparison, the existing Salt River facility has 10 autopsy tables, 150 permanent refrigerated body spaces, and 30 temporary refrigerated body spaces.
The new facility will also be able to accommodate 20 students at a time. This will facilitate the training of trainee specialists at the University of Cape Town Medical School.
The project makes use of labour-intensive methods that provide a number of short-term work opportunities and skills training for local people. To date, R603 800 has been spent on targeted enterprises, R121 400 on targeted suppliers, and R100 000 on targeted local labour.