New Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute to open doors in April | Western Cape Government


New Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute to open doors in April

1 February 2021

Media Release by Bonginkosi Madikizela Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works

When one loses a loved one, knowing the cause of death is very important both for legal and emotional reasons. It provides answers and closure that ultimately honour the dignity of the deceased.

 11 000 decedents are presented for examination at the Western Cape Forensic Pathology Services facilities per annum.  70% of the cases are presented in the Cape Metro region.

These numbers have increased significantly as a result of deaths due to the coronavirus.

 The new Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute that is being built by my department, the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) will add significant capacity to our current pathology services.

 The purpose of my visit today is to assess progress towards completion and the state of readiness of the project and give assurance that all required systems are in place.

 Construction of the R287 million facility which is located at the entrance of Groote Schuur Hospital commenced in April 2017 with an initial estimated completion date of March 2019.

 However, there have been several delays as the DTPW were issued with changes to the scope of work and construction was forced to shut down during the extended hard lockdown period. Progress was also subjected to numerous delays in the completion of the permanent electrical, water and civils connections. These challenges were beyond our control, but I am giving this project ongoing attention to ensure it is completed according to its revised schedule.

 I am pleased to announce that this facility is now scheduled for completion in April 2021.

 Once completed, the level 4 forensic pathology facility will replace the existing Forensic Pathology facility in Salt River.

 The three-storey facility will enable better integration of the work of provincial Forensic Pathology Services and the National Health Laboratory Service, coupled with resources to support the University of Cape Town’s academic training in the field.

 The design and construction of the facility is of a highly complex nature and takes into consideration processes aimed at extracting, analysing and preserving the integrity of evidence for use within the Criminal Justice System if required.

The works comprised the demolition of the existing Old Groote Schuur Engineering Workshop with the exception of the historical Art Deco façade facing Main Road, which was to be retained and incorporated into the new design proposal due to its inherent architectural heritage value.

The new facility will incorporate the following functions:

  • Lower Ground Floor accommodating parking, service/plant room spaces and a component of the noxious wet lab spaces
  • Upper Ground Floor accommodating the Main Entrance off Falmouth Road, main autopsy and body refrigeration functions, body receiving and dispatch, and the public waiting and body viewing spaces.
  • First Floor accommodating laboratories, offices and teaching spaces
  • Roof Plant Void and Slab accommodating additional service/plant room spaces
  • A public parking area located across Falmouth

 The following core facilities will be incorporated:

  • 26 autopsy tables – four dissection suites with six tables each, as well as teaching and training dissection suites.
  • 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; up to 10 waiting undertakers; and up to 20 students at a time.

Access for both public visitors and staff will be via the Falmouth Road entrance, with separation clearly defined by a central Security Room overlooking both access points.

It is important to note that this project made use of labour-intensive methods that have provided and continue to provide a number of short-term work opportunities and skills training for local citizens.

We are very proud to be building a lab that is of the highest standard, further boosting the reputation of the Western Cape as a centre of excellence for medical and related services.

Media Enquiries: 

Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka
Spokesperson for Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela
Cell: 082 953 0026