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The Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology 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 either on the joint staff establishment of the University of Cape Town and the PGWC: Health: Forensic Pathology Services, or fully employed by UCT. The joint staff as Forensic Pathologists is responsible for the medico-legal investigations of unnatural deaths in the West Metropole of the City of Cape Town, and the UCT staff is responsible for the Biomedical Forensic Science teaching and research. Based at the Salt River Mortuary, one of the busiest mortuaries in the world, the joint staff from the Forensic Medicine and Toxicology division perform about 3500 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. The department has dedicated research laboratories, where research is being conducted on various aspects of Forensic Medicine, including the creation of a violence and injury database for the Cape Town West 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, science 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, Human Biology, Paediatrics and Psychiatry; and the Law faculty at the University of Cape Town.


Head of Division

Professor Lorna Martin


Divisional Secretary

Chantal van Niekerk