Grim ways to die in Gauteng

2015-09-03 16:40


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Johannesburg - In Gauteng, you have a better chance of dying in a car crash than being shot dead.

This is if mortuary statistics for the last three years, released in the Gauteng legislature this week, are anything to go by.

More than 1 700 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the past year, while just over 1 600 died of shootings.

You could also be hit by lightning - it happened to 50 people over the past three years - while electric shocks killed 360.

Not to mention poison - more than 100 Gautengers died of poisoning in the past year.

According to a written reply by Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to questions posed to by DA MPL Jack Bloom, more than a 1 400 people alone have died as a result of poisoning in the past three years.

Train accident deaths were also up, at 244 for 2014/2015 from 179 two years prior, while nearly 80 died undergoing operations last year.

The categories making up violent deaths - shootings, stabbings, assault and rape - on their own present formidable tallies that, according to Bloom, should give authorities serious pause for thought.

According to the reply, bodies from these four types of violent deaths rose from 3 370 in 2012/13, to 3 654 in 2013/14, then to 3 875 in 2014/15.

Violence causes 25% of deaths

Taking into account the total number of bodies found across the province's 10 mortuaries, violent deaths were the cause of around 25% of all mortalities for the period.

Shootings by themselves were the second biggest contributor among all causes of death, resulting in 1 413, 1 552 and 1 608 bodies arriving in mortuaries over the period 2012/13 to 2014/15.

Stabbings (1 097, 1 164, and 1 257) alone ranked in the top four causes of death for the same periods. Assault (814, 902 and 981) and rape (46, 36, and 29) rounded out the figure for violent deaths.

If violent crime was not enough, Gauteng's reputation for being home to the country's wildest drivers was only strengthened by the mortuary numbers.

Motor vehicle accidents were the number one cause of death across the province's 10 mortuaries, with 1 881 people entering Gauteng's mortuaries in 2012/13 as a result. This number increased to 1 927 in 2013/14, and dropped somewhat to 1 707 in 2014/15.

Pedestrians predictably suffered as a result, with 1 212, 1 276, and 1 193 pedestrians across the three-year period found in the province's mortuaries.

'Dead bodies don't lie'

Hanging (823, 904 and 846), and burns (665, 710, and 715) contributed a significant number of bodies, while over the same period, a total of 2 090 died due to burns, 1 807 were stillborn infants, and 748 drowned.

A total of 360 were killed by electric shocks, 216 were strangled to death, and 115 suffocated.

While it is said that lighting never strikes the same place twice, 50 people died after being hit by lightning, a feature of the heavy thunderstorms that engulf the province in the summer months.

Anaesthetics, a vital part of surgical procedures, ironically led to 422 deaths in 2012/13, followed by 584 in 2013/14, and 725 in 2014/15. 

"The overall number of bodies stored in the 10 Gauteng state mortuaries rose from 13 602 in 2012 to 14 866 in 2014," Bloom said.

"These figures are of concern because they show that unnatural deaths are increasing in Gauteng, mostly because of violence." 

"Dead bodies don't lie - these shock figures should be a wake-up call to curb violence and the causes of violence in Gauteng."

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