The Department of Forensic Medicine plays a broad and significant role in the Faculty of Health Sciences, as well as in the community in general.
As an academic department, we are responsible for undergraduate training of medical students and law students in the field of forensic medicine and postgraduate training of specialist forensic pathologists and medical officers. We also present lectures to diverse groups in the South African society, including South African police detectives, students in the field of criminology, other health professionals and auxiliary medical personnel.
We also provide expert opinion and specialist forensic pathology services, which are rendered on a consultancy basis to diverse groups such as legal practitioners, the insurance industry, and health care managers.
Members of the Department play an important part in the administration and development of medico-legal investigative services in Gauteng Province.
Professional medical personnel serve on the joint staff establishment of the Gauteng Department of Health (Directorate: Forensic Pathology Services) and the University of Pretoria. They are responsible for the routine medico-legal investigation of other than natural deaths, as well as cases of sudden and/or unexpected death in the greater Pretoria metropolitan area. Approximately 3000 such deaths are investigated annually, in conjunction with the South African Police Service and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. These investigations include visits to the scenes of death, performance of medico-legal autopsies, special investigations (including laboratory examinations such as histology and toxicology), compilation of reports for legal proceedings, consultations with legal parties and/or government agencies and testifying in court proceedings. Senior pathologists also regularly serve as expert witnesses and as medical assessors at judicial and disciplinary proceedings.
Staff in the Department of Forensic Medicine are also available as guest speakers at community organisations.