Transport the body & obtain Death Notice
One needs to have the deceased moved to a suitable mortuary and acquire a Death Notice / Notification of Death (cause of death) also known as the BI-1663 Medical Certificate. The death notice referred to here is not the ‘Death Certificate’ from Home Affairs, (see Obtaining a Death Certificate page).
The next of kin need not wait for the Death Notice (BI-1663 Medical Certificate) to be issued, your funeral director will usually take care of this detail for you.
- If a person dies in hospital of natural causes, the doctor will issue a death notice. Many private hospitals don’t have mortuary facilities, in those cases a funeral director needs to be contacted immediately to collect the deceased. State Hospitals generally have mortuary facilities, the body must remain there until a death notice is issued.
- If a person dies in hospital of unnatural causes, the body will need to be transferred to a state mortuary for a compulsory postmortem (autopsy). The state mortuary will then issue a death notice.
- If a person dies at home of natural causes, one should contact the doctor first. Provided the doctor is willing to issue a death notice one can contact a funeral director to transport the deceased to a mortuary. A death notice can be obtained from the deceased’s doctor if the doctor had seen the deceased within 24 hours of their death or within a reasonable time whereby the doctor is assured of the cause of death. If the doctor is unwilling to sign the death notice a funeral service will arrange for a private autopsy to be performed to ascertain the cause of death. The death notice will then be issued by the pathologist at the mortuary where the autopsy was performed.
For those who have died of natural causes at home and do not require an autopsy there is a further requirement if they are to be cremated. A second doctor needs to examine the body to confirm that there is no reason why the body cannot be cremated. Both doctors need to sign cremation forms which are then handed to the medical referee at the crematorium who will then give the final permission for the cremation to take place.
- If a person dies at home of unnatural causes , one must contact the police. The police will organise removal of the body to a State Mortuary where a compulsory autopsy will be performed and a death notice will be issued.
Please note: In all the above cases the body is to be identified by a relative or friend before the death notice can be issued.
Identifying the Deceased
Anyone who knew the deceased can do the identification, provided they take both their own and the deceased’s identity books or passports to the mortuary when identifying. They will need to obtain a mortuary/body number from the mortuary staff.