Cape Town’s brand new mortuary almost ready


Construction of Cape Town’s new state mortuary, which is to replace the battered Salt River Mortuary, is nearing completion, with only about 10% of the work still to complete.

The Western Cape health department says the R281m Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute is 87% complete and is due for completion midyear, about 10 months after its initial scheduled completion date of October 2019.

The new two-storey building, at the entrance of Groote Schuur hospital, is more than double the size of the existing mortuary and, when complete, will provide level 4 forensic services “aimed at extracting, analysing and preserving the integrity of evidence for use by the criminal justice system”, said the department.

Mark van der Heever, spokesperson for the Western Cape health department, said the mortuary will, however, not deal with Covid-19 deaths, which are considered “natural”. Only unnatural deaths that require autopsies will be dealt with by the new mortuary.

The facility will include 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, including undertakers and students. It is also designed to enable better integration of forensic pathology services, the National Health Laboratory Service and academic staff from the University of Cape Town.

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