Media Release : Significant reduction in waiting times of Muslim bodies | Western Cape Government



Media Release : Significant reduction in waiting times of Muslim bodies

15 November 2017

Follow-up meeting held with MJC shows significant reduction in waiting times of Muslim bodies

Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) remains committed to the practice of prioritising the autopsies of Muslim bodies, in recognition of Islamic law. On Tuesday, 14 November a follow-up meeting was held with the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) to further discuss progress made on the turnaround time for the release of bodies of the Muslim faith.

We appreciate the leadership shown on behalf of MJC, and the spirit of co-operation in searching for solutions to service pressure challenges. From its side, the Department has tried to openly share information, as agreed previously, via regular updates of case load.  The Department stated previously (16 October) that it could give admission-to-release-time of between 6 and 7 days. The MJC made it clear that the average period of 6-7 days is unacceptable and appealed to the Department and the Minister to shorten this time-frame to a more mutually acceptable period.  

Minister Nomafrench Mbombo said “By adding extra resources, and partially due to a fluctuation in case, a reduction of 50% has been achieved in the turn-around time for Muslim bodies at both mortuaries. This indicates an average of 3.5 days from admission to release of bodies. The Department will continue to ensure the shortest possible release time for all bodies. The right to justice and a proper investigation are rights afforded to all citizens, and prioritisation needs to be weighed with this in mind.”

The Department has committed extra resources to this service area through the employment of 7 forensic pathology assistants (FPA’s), 6 forensic pathology officers (FPO’s), and 2 medical registrars.  The FPO’s have already been appointed, the FPA’s are in the process of assuming duties and interviews are currently underway for extra medical registrar posts. The first registrar is due to commence duty on 1 December.

Another concern which was raised, was the dignified treatment of the deceased, and maintaining the integrity of bodies. The Minister has personally been on oversight visits in the meantime and via these visits and in internal meetings, measures were re-affirmed to all staff working at our mortuaries.

The Department welcomes the spirit of the engagement with MJC and encourages other parties to engage with us directly, on FPS or any other issue. Community members can assist the speedy release of bodies by quick response to the calls for identification (of all deceased not only Muslim faith). Sometimes these delays can significantly delay the process of release. Undertakers appointed by the next-of-kin are encouraged to liaise with the Forensic Pathology facilities to expedite the release as soon as all medico-legal processes had been completed.

The alarming incidents of violence in our community, which significantly adds to the pressure on autopsy services, remains of grave concern. The Department urges communities to rally with police and law enforcement to stand together against violence.

Media Enquiries: 

Marika Champion
Director: Communications
Western Cape Government: Health
074 011 2244