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Forensic Anthropology Cape Town (FACT)

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has a long history of assisting the government in forensic cases, the first recorded was by Professor M.R. Drennan in 1948 on a case involving burnt remains in Durban. Since his arrival in the 80's Professor Alan G. Morris provided this service to the community and training to our students. In his 2011 book entitled Missing and Murdered he describes the role of the forensic anthropologist in South African case work. Our Department has an established history of providing this service to the community. This resulted in the formal establishment of Forensic Anthropology Cape Town (FACT) at UCT in 2011. 

FACT is a service provided by the academic staff in the Division of Clinical Anatomy and Biological Anthropology within the Department of Human Biology, UCT, where their expertise in biological anthropology is applied to cases of medico-legal significance (Forensic Anthropology). Cases are generally, but not limited to, highly decomposed human remains, burnt remains and radiological analyses. Within the University framework these cases are also used for teaching and research training of students in the relevant Division.  

Our Directive
Our undertaking is to serve the community through providing a service to law enforcement. Primarily we are involved in skeletonised human cases where our aim is to provide a demographic profile on the individual including the estimation of sex, age, height-at-death and ancestry, we also examine the remains for individualising features, pathology and trauma. This profile is used by law-enforcement to assist in identifying of the individual. We also provide quality training and experiential learning experience for our students engaged in the field.

FACT may agree to, or be directed to, perform biological/forensic anthropology consultations at the request of authorised persons or organisations (“submitting agencies”), which may include the following:

  1. Law enforcement agencies such as Forensic Pathology Services (FPS) and Victim Identification Centre (VIC) through the South African Police Service (SAPS).
  2. Other national agencies engaged in law enforcement activities.
  3. International and foreign agencies or organisations.
  4. Private agencies and/or individuals (e.g. attorneys, family members and private companies) not associated with the types of agencies listed above. During the processing of such cases, the attending FACT members will be chosen at the discretion of the attending pathologist in consultation with the head of FACT.

For further information please contact the FACT manager:

Dr. Jacqui Friedling

For research and teaching enquiries in Forensic Anthropology contact:

Dr. Jacqui Friedling or Dr. Victoria Gibbon