A 10-year review of fatal community assault cases at a regional forensic pathology facility in Cape Town, South Africa
Background. An increase in autopsied community assault (CA) fatalities was observed at the Tygerberg Forensic Pathology Services (FPS), Cape Town, South Africa (SA). There is a paucity of information on the incidence and prevalence of these cases in SA.
Objectives. To determine the patterns and trends of injuries sustained in so-called CA fatalities.
Methods. A retrospective and descriptive study was conducted. Fatal CA cases admitted to the Tygerberg FPS over the 10-year period 1 January 2003 - 31 December 2012 were reviewed. Data were collected from autopsy/postmortem reports, contemporaneous notes, attached hospital records, the South African Police Services (SAPS) 180 form (completed by the SAPS representative) and other FPS documentation.
Results. A total of 424 cases of fatal CA were seen during the study period, with an annual increase between 2003 and 2007 and a second peak in 2012. The cause of death in most cases was multiple injuries (42.0%), with blunt-force trauma being the basis of most injuries sustained. The area with the greatest burden of injury was the township of Mfuleni (73 CA deaths per 100 000 population). There was a predominance of males, with only one female fatality recorded.
Conclusion. Adequate policing in prevalent areas is essential to address unnecessary loss of life and the burden imposed by these cases on the criminal justice system and healthcare services.
Copyright remains in the Author’s name. The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial Works License. Authors are required to complete and sign an Author Agreement form that outlines Author and Publisher rights and terms of publication. The Agreement form should be uploaded along with other submissions files and any submission will be considered incomplete without it [forthcoming].
Material submitted for publication in the SAMJ is accepted provided it has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. Please inform the editorial team if the main findings of your paper have been presented at a conference and published in abstract form, to avoid copyright infringement. The SAMJ does not hold itself responsible for statements made by the authors.
Previously published images
If an image/figure has been previously published, permission to reproduce or alter it must be obtained by the authors from the original publisher and the figure legend must give full credit to the original source. This credit should be accompanied by a letter indicating that permission to reproduce the image has been granted to the author/s. This letter should be uploaded as a supplementary file during submission.