Incidence of unnatural deaths in Transkei sub-region of South Africa (1996–2015)

  • B L Meel Walter Sisulu University
Keywords: unnatural deaths, traumatic deaths, violent deaths


Background: Unnatural deaths are a serious and preventable public health problem in South Africa. Such an event is more than the death of an individual who has died in an unnatural way. It has a negative and long-lasting impact on family members as well as on society as a whole. Objective: To study the pattern of unnatural deaths in the Transkei sub-region of South Africa. Method: A record review was undertaken from 1996 to 2015 of 24 693 medico-legal autopsies performed at Mthatha Forensic Pathology Laboratory. Results: At the Mthatha Forensic Pathology Laboratory, 24 693 autopsies were performed between 1996 and 2015 on people who had died unnatural deaths. The average rate of unnatural death is 205 per 100 000 per year in this region. The figure is 160 per 100 000 among males and 44 per 100 000 among females. The rate of unnatural death has increased from 153 per 100 000 in 1996 to 260 per 100 000 in 2015. In two-thirds (69%) of cases, the cause of death is related to trauma. Slightly less than half (45%) of the victims in this study were murdered. Conclusion: There is an increasing trend of unnatural deaths in the Mthatha region of South Africa. The male-to-female ratio is 3.8:1, and about half (48%) of the victims were between 11 and 30 years old. This situation needs the urgent attention of the law enforcement agencies. (Full text of the research articles are available online at S Afr Fam Pract 2017; DOI: 10.1080/20786190.2017.1292697

Author Biography

B L Meel, Walter Sisulu University
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology Walter Sisulu University Mthatha South Africa
Research Articles