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Legal record and confidential information 18/21

We have emphasised thus far the importance of death certification to accurate mortality statistics, public health policy planning and the allocation of resources. Aside from the public health importance, cause of death is part of a permanent legal record.  

The Births and Death registration Act 51 of 1992 requires that all deaths are registered with the Department of Home Affairs using the prescribed form:  DHA1663.  Where a medical practitioner is satisfied that the death was due to natural causes, he or she is required to issue the prescribed cause of death certificate stating the cause of death.  Where the death is due to other than natural causes, an investigation into the circumstances of the death is required under section 3 of the Inquests Act 58 of 1959.  

In South Africa, the cause of death section is considered confidential information.  The Regulations on the Registration of Births and Deaths were amended in 2014,  to include a self-sealing page for Section G of the medical certificate of cause of death. The certifying medical doctor is required to seal this page after completing Section G to ensure confidentiality. Thereafter it is only available to Statistics South Africa for official purposes.