Official Opening of New Forensic Pathology and Emergency Medical Service Premises | Western Cape Government


Official Opening of New Forensic Pathology and Emergency Medical Service Premises

13 October 2010

The official opening today of the Western Cape Forensic Pathology Services head office and Metro Emergency Medical Services Northern District, marks a new era in the history of Tygerberg Hospital.

Unveiling the plaque, Theuns Botha, Western Cape Minister of Health, said: "This ceremony today symbolises how an opportunity can be created out of disaster."

The conversion of this building, which at one point in time housed almost seven hundred (700) victims of the Joe Slovo informal settlement fires, into the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and Forensic Pathology Unit, is indeed significant. It covers almost three thousand (3000) square meters.

In the history of Tygerberg hospital, the building has had several functions and was initially used by general assistants to change into their work uniforms and for meals. Thereafter it was used as a payout point for staff salaries, then as an overnight accommodation facility for patients and family from rural areas, after which it was used as a storage facility. In 2005, the building was converted to accommodate hundreds of victims of the Joe Slovo informal settlement campfires and other needy community members. In the past year the provincial Department of Public Works was responsible for major renovations to convert the building for forensic pathology purposes.

The converted building has offices, conference rooms, two (2) kitchens and filing rooms. There is a storage facility and an area used as an ambulance station.

The Metro Emergency Medical Services Northern District will be sharing the building with Forensic Pathology Services. The one hundred and sixty (160) staff members of this service have been operating temporarily from the Delft Community Health Centre.

Information about Forensic Pathology Services in the Western Cape:

In the Western Cape the Forensic Pathology Service is rendered by eighteen (18) facilities across the province, which includes two (2) academic laboratories in the metropole, two (2) departments of forensic medicine, three (3) referral laboratories, and smaller laboratories and holding centres on the West Coast, Cape Winelands, Overberg, Eden and Central Karoo.

To date, the Western Cape Department of Health has completed the construction of five (5) new facilities - Malmesbury, Paarl, Worcester, Hermanus and George. Planning is under way for the construction of a new facility to replace the current Salt River Forensic Pathology Unit, new facilities in Beaufort West and Riversdale.

The Forensic Pathology Service includes the investigation of scene of death, collection of evidence, assistance to the South African Police Services (SAPS) with the identification of deceased persons, and autopsy and post mortem examinations as well as the provision of evidence in court proceedings.

To date, the directorate has two hundred and thirty-four (234) staff members - medical specialists, operational staff and administrative support. Its fleet has sixty-seven (67) vehicles of which fifty (50) are body collecting vehicles. Three (3) are Incident Response Vehicles used on major accident scenes, such as the recent taxi accident at the Blackheath train crossing, and the De Doorns bus accident.

Issued by:
Theuns Botha
Minister of Health, Western Cape

Media Enquiries: 

Helene Rossouw
Media Liaison
Western Cape Ministry of Health
Tel: 021 483 4426
Cell: 082 771 8834
Fax: 021 483 4143