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South African province deploys biometrics to identify unclaimed bodies, reduce crime

South African province deploys biometrics to identify unclaimed bodies, reduce crime

The government of South Africa’s smallest province, Gauteng, has launched a fingerprint biometrics system that will enable health authorities easily identify abandoned or unclaimed bodies in different mortuaries across the province.

The innovation, fronted by the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH), was rolled out during a ceremony on July 13 presided at by the Gauteng Member of the Executive Council for Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, according to a press release from the provincial government.

The launching ceremony was also an opportunity for a demonstration to be performed on the functionality of the system.

Officials says the system comes on the heels of many years of problems of unclaimed or identified bodies in the 11 Forensic Pathology Service mortuaries under the control of the GHoD.

The novelty, they believe, will be useful in the easy and immediate identification of deceased persons so that their “families can give their loved ones a dignified send-off.”

The system will have access to the databases of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the South African Police Service (SAPS) and National Credit Bureaus to identify deceased bodies using their fingerprint biometrics.

The project is implemented in collaboration with the Centre for Public Service Innovation and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Other countries such as Nepal and Pakistan also use biometric systems in identifying abandoned or unclaimed bodies.

Gauteng video surveillance project with facial recognition on a pilot

In another biometric project in Gauteng, the provincial government is also planning to set up a full-scale video surveillance system with facial recognition cameras in a bid to counter the growing spate of urban criminality, reports Eyewitness News.

Though the smallest, Gauteng is one of the most urbanized and most populated provinces in South Africa, which makes it easy for criminal gangs to find their space.

First proposed last year, the system is now on a pilot phase and cameras have been installed in places perceived to have high crime rates, according to Vuyo Mhaga, a Gauteng premier spokesperson.

The cameras are connected to a central command system where all data collected will be stored and processed.

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