Shorter wait for Muslim bodies from Cape mortuaries

15 November 2017 - 19:07 By Olivia Decelles
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Image: 123rf/ Mirza Sudzuka

Waiting periods for the release of Muslim bodies from Cape Town mortuaries have been cut after new measures were put in place to address concerns raised by the Muslim Judiciary Council (MJC) last month.

MJC representatives were informed at a meeting with the provincial health department on Tuesday that the allocation of extra resources at the mortuaries had seen the waiting time halved.

The department previously undertook to release bodies between six and seven days after admission to mortuaries‚ but the MJC had requested that the time be shortened for Muslims‚ to allow quicker burial according to Muslim rites.

The new measures meant there was now an average of 3.5 days from admission to release of bodies‚ said Western Cape MEC for Health Nomafrench Mbombo.

A statement from the provincial health department said the province had already employed new forensic pathology assistants‚ and was in the process of appointing additional forensic pathologists and medical registrars.

“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‚” said Mbombo.

The department’s statement said delays in identification of bodies was a factor in the delay in their release. It called on community members to assist by responding quickly to the calls for identification of all deceased‚ not only those of the Muslim faith.

According to the department "alarming incidents of violence'' in communities weighed heavily on autopsy services.

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