Forensic lab construction on track

A new Observatory forensic pathology laboratory is being built at the entrance of Groote Schuur Hospital.

Construction of the new Observatory forensic pathology laboratory is progressing well and once completed, will provide Level 4 forensic services which will assist in crime fighting.

Forensic labs analyse and capture evidence such as DNA, fingerprints and bodily fluids from crime scenes to solve crimes and a new world-class lab can preserve the integrity of all evidence collected.

This project, which started last July, an initiative of the departments of Transport and Public Works and Health, is expected to be finished by mid-2019.

It is being built at the entrance to Groote Schuur Hospital at a cost of R281 million and is set to replace the Salt River pathology lab. This new facility will also allow up until 20 UCT medical students to train and develop their skills.

Its features will include 26 autopsy tables that will also include two teaching and training dissection suites, 360 refrigerated body spaces, 180 dispatch fridges and 180 admission fridges.

This new building will have 10 undertakers and it also allows up to 100 visitors a day at the the bereavement centre.

These features would be a major upgrade from the facilities at the Salt River pathology lab, which only has 10 autopsy tables, 150 permanent refrigerated body spaces and 30 temporary refrigerated body spaces.

Robert Daniels, communications officer for emergency medical and forensic pathology services, said all the staff from the current Salt River pathology lab would move to the new facility once it was completed.

He said the design of the new building would make for a favourable working environment for employees. “The design incorporates natural light through glazed autopsy rooms and a courtyard that allows light deep into the working areas,”said Mr Daniels

Job opportunities were created in the construction of this new facility.

“The project makes use of labour-intensive methods that provide a number of short-term work opportunities and skills training for local people.

To date, R603 800 has been spent on targeted enterprises, R121 400 on targeted suppliers and R100 000 on targeted local labour,” said Steven Heyns, acting head of communication for the Department of Transport and Public Works.