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Forensic Entomology Unit

Forensic Entomology concerns the use of insects and related arthropods that inhabit and feed upon decomposing remains to aid medicolegal investigations, principally through estimation of post-mortem interval, location of remains, and determination of antemortem drug usage (through entomotoxicology) and reconstruction of events.

CapeFORTE is the established Cape Forensic Taphonomy & Entomology Laboratory initiated by Dr Heyns and Devin Finaughty in 2016. CapeFORTE offers specialised forensic entomological and taphonomic analysis services to the Western Cape Forensic Pathology Services, providing valuable information on PMI and the circumstances surrounding death in cases where individuals are in a state of decomposition or the remains skeletonised. Our vision is to be a world-class forensic taphonomy and entomology laboratory and research house at the forefront of South African forensics, providing professional forensic consultancy services to the medicolegal industry with excellence and diligence to better-enable them to restore the dignity of the deceased, bring timeous closure to the affected families, and facilitate appropriate execution of justice. We have been involved in several Forensic Cases.

Areas of research

Insect identification and age determination

·         Morphological identification of local forensically active species

·         DNA barcoding of forensically relevant blow flies

·         Larval and pupal age determination to assist PMI determination

·         Developmental stages of blow flies

Insect activity

·         Insect artefacts on crime scenes

·         Nocturnal insect behaviour

Death scene investigation

·         Post mortem interval determination

·         Scene reconstruction

Other

·         Decomposition

·         Drowning and drifting

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