The Department of Health says the backlog is caused by a spike in gang murders on the Cape Flats, and not a recent strike, as widely believed.
“Fifty-six percent of the caseload increase are gunshot victims,” says Health Department Spokesperson, Darren Francis.
Mom Malieka Davids, 33, was killed on Monday when two alleged gangsters opened fire in Gonubie Street and a stray bullet hit her in the stomach.
Her nine-year-old son standing next to her witnessed the shooting.
The Manenberg mother was rushed to Groote Schuur Hospital but died later that evening.
Her husband Reza told Daily Voice they planned to hold her janaazah on Tuesday as it is customary for a Muslim person to be buried within 24 hours of death.
However, the family was told there were more than 100 other bodies that needed to be released before Malieka’s.
Fazlin Davids says they’ve been going to Salt River Mortuary every day, hoping her daughter-in-law’s body would be released.
“Malieka was an innocent mother that was murdered. The children are already traumatised and every day her daughter screams for her mommy,” says Fazlin.
“My son Reza is in a state and the family just wants closure. I don’t understand why they are taking so long, they know Muslim people must be buried as soon as possible. It is part of our religious rights.”
She says they were told it may take up to two weeks to get Malieka’s body.
On Thursday the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) also released a statement highlighting their concerns.
“The MJC has raised concerns following reports from the community that bodies are not being swiftly released from Cape Town mortuaries in time for the customary 24-hour burial procedure in Islam. A number of families in Cape Town are waiting anxiously for the bodies of deceased, due to delays in finalising post-mortems,” it said.
Sheikh Riad Fataar, chairperson of the Muslim Cemetery Board, says they have called for a meeting with the provincial department of health to rectify the problem.
“We urge family members who are waiting for the bodies of their beloved to please have patience with us during this challenging time,” he says.
Francis confirms they have a meeting with the MJC on Monday to discuss this matter further.
“At the moment, there are a total of 176 bodies that require a post-mortem. This backlog is not due to the strike that occurred but due to the recent murders and violent attacks in and around Cape Town, causing an increase in the number of unnatural deaths that require post-mortems.
“The Department does recognise that the time of bereavement is a stressful and difficult period, and for this reason is doing everything in their power to assist and relieve the pressure and streamline the process,” Francis says.
Robert Daniels, spokesperson for the Emergency Medical and Forensic Pathology Services, adds: “Cases will now be allocated and autopsies performed in chronological order.”