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The Division of Forensic Medicine at the University of Cape Town is a multi-focused department, with an emphasis on forensic medicine, research and public policy. The academic staff are on the joint staff establishment of the University of Cape Town and the PGWC: Health: Forensic Pathology Services, and are responsible for the medico-legal investigations of all Metropole deaths. We service a population of 4.5 million persons from Atlantis on the West Coast, the Peninsula, and the City of Cape Town. Based at the Salt River Mortuary, one of the busiest mortuaries in the world, the staff from the Forensic Medicine department perform about 3,500 autopsies per annum.

In addition to the medico-legal investigations, the department also has a strong focus on public policy and health promotion relating specifically to violence against women and children, the role of drugs and toxins in deaths, and firearm injuries. Although the department does not have a dedicated research laboratory, research is being conducted on various aspects of Forensic Medicine, including the creation of a violence and injury database for the Cape Town Metropole. In addition to the service delivery and other activities that the department is responsible for, the staff also provide teaching and mentoring to the medical and law students from the University of Cape Town and hosts several international scholars each year.

Based on the experience of our Forensic Pathologists in medico-legal investigations, the Forensic Pathology team provide expert opinions and testimony for high profile international criminal cases, natural and non-natural disasters, and are invited lecturers at international conferences around the globe.

There are active collaborations with the departments of Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Human Genetics, Paediatrics and Psychiatry; and the Law faculty at the University of Cape Town.

Head of Division
Professor Lorna Martin

Divisional Secretary
June Mehl