FPS plays a pivotal role in the fragile health care system, particularly at the end of the life cycle. Their role is to collect the remains, and conduct autopsies if and when it is needed. There is a misconception that all deceased bodies need to be autopsied, but this is not the case.
People who die from natural causes such as heart attacks and old age are often not autopsied. However, there are instances when a medical doctor or family may request that an autopsy be performed to establish the exact cause of death. Consent of the family is not needed to perform an autopsy and the family/relatives may not deny this process.
In cases where someone dies due to unnatural causes (violence, murder, suspected crime), FPS will automatically conduct autopsies to establish the cause of death as this may required in a court of law. Once conducted, FPS will only release the findings to SAPS and the family of the deceased and then hand over the body to undertakers or families once the process is complete.