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Head of Division: Professor L.J. Martin

Divisional Profile

A range of activities related to the role of Forensic Medicine in public policy and health promotion are being pursued. These relate specifically to violence against women and children, the role of drugs and toxins in deaths, and firearm injuries.  The provision of a sustainable database on violence and injury in the Cape Town Metropole is being implemented as an urgent research priority. We provide inputs into the National & Provincial Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS & PIMSS).

A large component of operational activity of the Division of Forensic Medicine is that of service delivery. The academic staff are on the joint staff establishment of the University of Cape Town and the PGWC: Health; Forensic Pathology Services. This is a fairly new programme of the PGWC: Health, established in April 2006, when the responsibility of "mortuary services" was transferred to the Province from SAPS. We are responsible for the medico-legal investigation of death of all persons who die within the Metropole, an area comprising approximately 4,5 million persons, stretching from Atlantis on the West Coast, the Peninsula, the City, to everything south of the N2 up to, but not including,  Khayelitsha. Our clinical services are based at Salt River Mortuary and we perform approx 3 500 autopsies per annum. The Division does not yet have a dedicated research laboratory, but this should be established in 2011. We do provide a clinical teaching neuropathology laboratory with a specialist neuropathologist. This, together with the heavy investigative service load and a critical shortage of pathologists, has limited research activities within the Division, but this will change with the establishment of our research laboratory and our proposed Masters course in Forensic Science (2012).

There are active collaborations with the departments of Anatomical Pathology, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Human Genetics, Paediatrics and Psychiatry; and EMS and the Law faculty.


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