Baragwanath Hospital urges families to collect bodies of their loved ones

The Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Orlando, Soweto, has appealed to family members to collect the bodies of their deceased loved ones.

In a social media post on Tuesday, the hospital listed 10 people who have yet to be claimed and urged their families to visit the on-site mortuary for identification.

The list includes:

  • Thabang Musala, born 1 June 1993, from Zola Ext 01, Kwa-Xuma, 1868;
  • Gift Mokgethi, born 26 November 1989, from Ext 1, Orange Farm, 3112;
  • Sizwe Mpe, born 6 July 1978, from 33 Friars Hill Road, The Hill;
  • Alan Wayne Vickey, born 12 March 1960, from 29 Thaba Bosigo, Glen Vista;
  • Thulani Xirendza, born 4 May 1985, transferred from Lenasia Clinic;
  • Robert Mbiri, born 10 May 1996, from Diepkloof Zone 6;
  • Daniel Heisi Mohlala, born 29 July 1971, from 143 Victoria Street, Rosettenville;
  • Unknown male, born 14 May 1985, picked up from Lillian Ngoyi Clinic;
  • Unknown male, born 13 May 1979, picked up from Ennerdale Clinic;
  • Mike Moyo, born 18 April 1980, from Corner Stevenson & Elliot Street, Booysen.

Unidentified bodies

In 2023, the Gauteng Department of Health reported that there were 938 unclaimed and unidentified bodies across 11 Forensic Pathology Service (FPS) mortuaries.

The department called on families with missing family members in the province to visit the mortuaries to check whether their loved ones were part of their deceased database.

The FPS mortuaries include Bronkhorstspruit (8), Ga-Rankuwa (69), Pretoria (263), Germiston (127), Heidelberg (9), Sebokeng (94), Springs (49), Carletonville (45), Diepkloof (49), Johannesburg (187) and Roodepoort (38).

Moreover, according to Spotlight, the Gauteng Department of Health in 2020 recorded more than 1 000 unidentified bodies in its forensic pathology service mortuaries.

Germiston mortuary listed the most unclaimed deceased persons, with 400 bodies on site. Johannesburg recorded 169 bodies, while Pretoria followed with 117, and Diepkloof in Soweto with 103.

Democratic Alliance Gauteng shadow health MEC Jack Bloom told Spotlight that these bodies were not recovered because they were considered “unnatural causes”.

“If they don’t have any form of identification on them, it is difficult to contact the family. Many of these bodies are probably foreigners with no local family. Tragically, in some cases the body is identified but is unclaimed because the family cannot afford to bury them,” said Bloom.

He added that the state accommodates the bodies for a period of 30 days before they are likely to run out of capacity and space.

Identifying deceased family members

Families who wish to identify their loved ones must have identity documents (IDs) of the identifier and the deceased, or a birth certificate if the deceased is a child.

In the event that the deceased is a foreign national, a passport, asylum seeker certificate or a letter from country of origin confirming who the deceased is and to whom the remains should be handed over to is needed.

Fingerprints of unidentified bodies who remain unclaimed after seven days are sent to the South African Police Service’s (Saps) Criminal Record Centre for identification and to the department of home affairs for matching with their records.

Should this identification process fail, the deceased’s next of kin is alerted through Saps’ investigating officer. At this stage the body is prepared for final release, burial or cremation.

The state buries the body if it is unable to identify it.

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