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SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY 
REGISTERED QUALIFICATION: 

National Diploma: Forensic Pathology Support 
SAQA QUAL ID QUALIFICATION TITLE
58183  National Diploma: Forensic Pathology Support 
ORIGINATOR
SGB Forensic Science 
PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QUALITY ASSURANCE FUNCTIONARY NQF SUB-FRAMEWORK
SAS SETA - Safety and Security SETA  OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
QUALIFICATION TYPE FIELD SUBFIELD
National Diploma  Field 08 - Law, Military Science and Security  Safety in Society 
ABET BAND MINIMUM CREDITS PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL QUAL CLASS
Undefined  240  Level 5  NQF Level 05  Regular-Unit Stds Based 
REGISTRATION STATUS SAQA DECISION NUMBER REGISTRATION START DATE REGISTRATION END DATE
Reregistered  SAQA 06120/18  2018-07-01  2023-06-30 
LAST DATE FOR ENROLMENT LAST DATE FOR ACHIEVEMENT
2024-06-30   2028-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

PURPOSE AND RATIONALE OF THE QUALIFICATION 
Purpose:

This qualification has been designed to provide a learning pathway to assistants in the field of forensic pathology services. In forensic pathology support persons should be able to perform activities ranging from attending and assessing the incident scene, to accompany the body to the mortuary and assisting during autopsy procedures.

This qualification, in line with current legislation, will assist with standardisation in the field of forensic pathology services and will empower learners to collect human remains and complete preparatory documentation while assisting pathologists during autopsies. It will also assist the learner to collect any required samples, under the direction of the pathologist, for any additional tests, such as histology and toxicology and forward these to the medical technicians. Learners will record matters related to the death at the scene and work with the stakeholders to remove the body from the incident scene. In addition they will also assist with the identification of the deceased as well as assist with the medico-legal investigation of death, including the performing of an autopsy. This qualification will also enable learners to remove and refer medico-legal specimens (exhibits) and keep records pertaining to medico legal cases.

This qualification ensures that learners are equipped with the skills to deal with issues of a forensic nature in a manner that is deemed ethical and culturally sensitive.
In this qualification the elective component allows for specialisation in forensic support in a variety of areas, including odontology, entomology, dactyloscopy, ballistics, anthropology, embalming and administrative management.

Learners who have successfully completed this qualification will, in broad terms, render support services to medical professionals and make preparations for specialised tasks in support of such professionals. They will perform semi-skilled manual, specialist clerical and technical tasks where the work content is multi-tasked and they will be trained to use medical equipment under supervision.

Qualifying learners will be able to:
  • Communicate with role-players in the interests of justice and offer professional service delivery.
  • Perform administrative duties in the provision of the forensic pathology service.
  • Provide specialised medical support in the provision of the forensic pathology service.
  • Apply current legislation and regulations in the provision of the forensic pathology service.
  • Gather and preserve information in support of the forensic pathology service.

    Rationale:

    There is a critical need in South Africa to develop a competent professional cadre of personnel who will assist and offer support services within the forensic pathology environment. This need further extends to offer support services within the ambit of medico-legal investigation of death. Current regulations and legal prescripts have, in response to this need, been extended to allow for assistance with pathology, radiography and specimen collection. This information will enable the justice system to deliver an efficient service within medico-legal cases. The competencies needed by the country encompass the importance of maintaining the chain of evidence and chain of custody in terms of its influence within the safety in society sector.

    This qualification will benefit the law enforcement sector and judicial sector as learners will positively contribute towards efficient incident scene handling and evidence collection. This qualification will be of benefit to stakeholders as it will create competent employees who will be able to offer efficient service delivery, assisting the law enforcement and judicial system in carrying out investigations and using the information generated out of the forensic investigation process. This will contribute to the effective handling and expediting of investigations. Furthermore, this qualification will open up the field of science to those learners that do not necessarily have a scientific background from their formal schooling. 

  • LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING 
  • Communication at NQF Level 4.

    Recognition of prior learning:

    This qualification may be obtained through Recognition of Prior Learning in terms of the defined exit level outcomes and/or individual unit standards.

    Learners who have met the requirements of any unit standard in this qualification may be assessed against the assessment criteria and specific outcomes for the relevant unit standard/s. Evidence for Recognition of Prior Learning can be presented in various ways, including international and/or previous local qualifications, products, reports, testimonials stating functions performed, work records, portfolios, videos of practice and performance records. All such evidence will be judged in accordance with the generally accepted principles of assessment and the requirements for integrated assessment.

    Access to the qualification:

    Access is open to all learners in possession of an FETC or equivalent qualification. Learners with certain physical disabilities such as visual, auditory and physical impairments may find it difficult to successfully complete the qualification. 

  • RECOGNISE PREVIOUS LEARNING? 

    QUALIFICATION RULES 
    All unit standards in the fundamental component totaling 64 credits are compulsory.

    All unit standards in the core component totaling 80 credits are compulsory.

    Learners must achieve at least on of the following specialization elective unit standards:
  • Explain the processes of clinical technology.
  • Explain the scientific principles of forensic odontology.
  • Apply forensic anthropological principles in forensic investigations.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of entomology.
  • Explain the science principles of dactyloscopy.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of embalming and special preservation techniques within the context of the working environment.

    Learners are to select additional unit standards from the elective component to achieve a total of 96 credits for the electives. 

  • EXIT LEVEL OUTCOMES 
    Qualifying learners will be able to:

    1. Communicate with role-players in the interests of justice and offer professional service delivery.
    2. Perform administrative duties in the provision of a forensic pathology service.
    3. Provide specialised medical support in the provision of a forensic pathology service.
    4. Apply current legislation and regulations in the provision of a forensic pathology service.
    5. Gather and preserve information in support of a forensic pathology service.

    Critical Cross-field Outcomes (CCFO):
  • Problem solving is covered in that a learner must be able to identify procedures to be followed when assisting in the provision of the forensic pathology service.
  • Working in a team is covered in that a learner must recognise that he or she is required to work as part of a team at all times when providing the forensic pathology service.
  • Self management in that the learner is responsible for organising and managing him/herself when carrying out his/her responsibilities in the forensic pathology service environment.
  • Learners are required to collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information in relation to the collection of information around a death incident and post mortem examination.
  • Learners are required to communicate with all role players about the death incident and post mortem examination using a variety of communication methods.
  • Learners are required to use science and technology through the use of imaging techniques, mortuary equipment, dissection techniques and preservation of samples.
  • Learners are required to see the world as a set of related systems in that, their conduct and decisions whilst performing their forensic pathology duties have an impact on others in the working environment and on the judicial process.
  • Contribute to the full personal development of the learner that in order to participate as responsible citizens in the community the learner is mindful of cultural and religious sensitivities in a forensic pathology service environment. 

  • ASSOCIATED ASSESSMENT CRITERIA 
    1.
  • Principles and protocols of communication are applied to provide a professional service.
  • Written and verbal communication is conducted with role players to create and maintain positive work relationships.
  • Confidentiality is ensured when communicating in a forensic pathology service environment.
  • Social protocols and ethical principles are followed in line with cultural and religious sensitivities.
  • Trauma support is offered to those known to the deceased.

    2.
  • Administrative duties are carried out in line with organisational requirements.
  • Information is captured and maintained on organisation's database.
  • Records of the death incident are produced and secured according to standard procedures.
  • The storage of the deceased's property is managed in order to preserve the evidence.
  • Equipment and materials are used, checked and maintained in the forensic pathology service environment.
  • Management responsibilities are carried out to ensure effective service delivery in the workplace.

    3.
  • Specialised medical support is provided to assist with pathology services.
  • Knowledge of anatomy, pathology and trauma pathology is applied to assist in the post mortem process.
  • Knowledge of trauma pathology and applied forensic pathology is demonstrated in the forensic pathology service.
  • Knowledge of autopsy techniques is applied in the post mortem process.
  • Support is rendered in the identification of human remains.
  • Safety and infection control principles are applied in the workplace to avoid contamination.
  • The elementary processes of medical technology, odontology, anthropology, entomology, dactyloscopy and embalming are described in the context of the forensic pathology service.

    4.
  • Current legislation and regulations are described and applied in the provision of a forensic pathology service.
  • Industry-specific regulations and ethics are followed to ensure compliance with legislation and respect for people and human remains.
  • Occupational Health and Safety regulations are followed to ensure a safe working environment.
  • Specialised evidence is presented in a court of law.

    5.
  • Evidence is gathered and preserved at the death scene in order to maintain its integrity.
  • Duties relating to a death incident are conducted in order to gather and preserve evidence.
  • Basic imaging (photographic and radiographic) services are rendered to preserve evidence.
  • Methods of handling evidence are demonstrated in order to maintain the chain of custody.
  • Specialised techniques for the handling of specimens are performed in the scientific identification of human remains.

    Integrated assessment:

    The purpose of integrated assessment is so that learners are able to show their applied skills, that is to show that they can integrate the foundational and practical competencies required by the different unit standards in order to fulfill the purpose of the qualification. The achievement of applied competence of this qualification will be demonstrated if the learner is able to perform activities ranging from attending and assessing the scene of death, to accompanying the body to the mortuary and assisting during autopsy procedures.

    An assessment that is truly integrated will ensure that all specific outcomes, embedded knowledge and critical cross-field outcomes (CCFO) are assessed and that a learner is competent when measured against all exit level outcomes.

    This qualification has been structured in a manner that ensures integrated assessment can take place: the competencies required by the unit standards all form part of the Forensic Pathology Support Service and therefore the qualification lends itself to integrated assessment. By clustering related competencies from different unit standards, the assessor can structure an assessment activity that requires that the learner integrate practical and foundational skills and delivers them in a practical situation.

    For the purposes of this qualification, the aim of formative assessment will be to ensure that learners are acquiring both the theoretical and practical skills as they work through the qualification, as well as to develop a sense of the importance of life-long learning. During formative assessment learners will be assessed on both an individual and a team basis.

    When conducting summative assessment a learner's individual performance and ability will be judged using a variety of assessment methods and tools in both real and simulated workplace situations. When making a judgement during summative assessment, the assessor will ensure that the learner is competent against all exit level outcomes, as stated in this qualification. Exit level summative assessments of this qualification may include the assessment of knowledge (theoretical testing), with the application of knowledge, skills and values in the workplace environment in order to integrate theory and practice. 

  • INTERNATIONAL COMPARABILITY 
    Skills required by a forensic pathology officer are universal, but the actual role to be played by this person in the South African context is unique. The International Comparability study therefore focused on comparing international qualifications and competencies with the specific needs of forensic pathology support personnel in the South African context.

    Benchmarking was conducted with the following countries by means of questionnaires: USA, Australia and Namibia. This questionnaire interrogated the competencies required by a person in a similar role to that of the forensic pathology officer in South Africa, in order to determine whether the qualification has incorporated all the necessary competencies. Information was received from the USA, Namibia and Australia.

    Research was also done into "component standards" and competencies required internationally and these have been used extensively in confirming the requirements for this qualification, even though there appears to be no international qualification that matches the competency requirements exactly. In the absence of a suitable similar qualification, a comparison of the duties and skills of personnel assisting in providing the forensic pathology service was done.

    The research conducted across a number of countries generally found that the training courses for "Pathologist's Assistants" were at a higher level than required for this qualification. Many of the qualifications identified for this person required that learners have an undergraduate degree. (For example, the assistant forensic scientist in the UK, Germany, Poland, Philippines, as well as the pathology assistant in the USA. The latter does not have to be a qualified physician.) In comparative qualifications where learners are not required to be in possession of an undergraduate degree, they require school results such as "four GCSE passes (grades A-C), including either a science (preferably biology or chemistry) or mathematics as well as an 'A' level in a scientific subject (preferably biology or chemistry)," which indicates that the learners will be embarking on a qualification pitched at a much higher level than this qualification.

    The following information indicates that the competencies required by this qualification compare closely with those sourced from abroad, albeit at different levels of complexity:
  • Elements of Forensic Anthropology 1 (in the USA) includes "an introduction to the basic knowledge of human anatomy and osteology, including human remains recovery and laboratory processes that are required of a forensic anthropologist."
  • A "Journey Level Embalmer" is a person who "acts as an assistant to the medical pathologist and who is able to collect evidence; perform a variety of autopsy and examining room duties involving the preparation of decedents for autopsy; collect specimens and evidence taken during a homicide autopsy; conduct fingerprinting, photographing, and x-raying; assist in decedent receipt and release; lift and transport decedents within the building by hand and/or equipment; prepare written records of daily work activities; and maintain logs, x-rays, charts and other evidence."
  • A "Diener" in the USA requires no formal qualification, but receives on-the-job-training and performs the role of assistant to the forensic pathologist. The "Deiner's" role includes cleaning and taking clothing off the body, moving it to the autopsy table, preparing the instruments, transporting of bodies, preparing a body for post mortem, taking images, eviscerating and dissecting and assisting with examination of physical evidence.
  • Elements of a "Pathology Assistant Qualification" (USA) include external body examinations, assisting with dissections during autopsy and the release of information.

    The international comparability study therefore revealed that this qualification has included all the necessary competencies required by a person offering forensic pathology support, but at a less complex level. The entry requirements for this qualification match the entry level competencies required for a learner to succeed in this qualification. It also revealed the uniqueness of the qualification, which suits the context within which it is to be delivered in South Africa. 

  • ARTICULATION OPTIONS 
    This qualification articulates horizontally with:
  • NLRD ID: 57651, National Certificate: Forensic Science, Level 5.
  • NLRD ID: 50122, National Certificate: Policing, Level 5.
  • NLRD ID: 48865, National Diploma: Policing, Level 5.
  • NLRD ID: 49709, National Certificate: Criminology, Level 5.
  • NLRD ID: 49118, National Certificate: Resolving of Crime, Level 5.

    This qualification articulates vertically with:
  • NLRD ID: 57977, National Certificate: Forensic Biology, Level 6.
  • NLRD ID: 50194, Bachelor in Policing Practices, Level 6.
  • NLRD ID: 49108, Bachelor of Criminology, Level 7. 

  • MODERATION OPTIONS 
  • Providers offering learning towards this qualification or the component unit standards must be accredited by the appropriate ETQA or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA. The provider will conduct integrated summative assessment internally.
  • Anyone assessing a learner or moderating the assessment of a learner against this qualification must be registered as an assessor with a relevant Education and Training Quality Assurance (ETQA) Body or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Moderators must be registered as assessors and moderators with the relevant ETQA, or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Assessment and Moderation of assessment will be overseen by the appropriate ETQA according to the ETQA's moderation guidelines, which must include both internal and external moderation, and the agreed ETQA procedures. 

  • CRITERIA FOR THE REGISTRATION OF ASSESSORS 
  • Assessors must be in registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA.
  • Registered assessors must be competent in the outcomes of this qualification or be in possession of a relevant qualification.
  • Registered assessors must gave worked in a forensic pathology environment for at least three years. 

  • REREGISTRATION HISTORY 
    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this qualification was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 

    NOTES 
    N/A 

    UNIT STANDARDS: 
      ID UNIT STANDARD TITLE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL CREDITS
    Core  243638  Apply knowledge of anatomy, patho-physiology and trauma pathology  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  20 
    Core  243639  Apply safety and infection control principles in the workplace  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Core  242707  Assimilate and present specialised evidence in a court of law  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  243631  Assist with post mortem examination procedures  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  12 
    Core  243637  Conduct duties relating to a death incident in the forensic pathology support environment  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Core  242713  Demonstrate an understanding of the field of forensic biology  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  243635  Facilitate identification process of human remains  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  120493  Manage property storage and use within a law enforcement environment  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  243636  Perform imaging techniques  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  119038  Preserve evidence on a scene  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  120304  Analyse, interpret and communicate information  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  13648  Apply appropriate social protocols in the workplace and community  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  119342  Apply knowledge of ethical principles, standards and professional conduct in public sector management and administration  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  8647  Apply workplace communication skills  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Fundamental  14155  Create and maintain positive workplace relationships  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  15096  Demonstrate an understanding of stress in order to apply strategies to achieve optimal stress levels in personal and work situations  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  117637  Demonstrate an understanding of the composition and dynamics of a creative team.  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  115823  Gather and manage information for decision-making  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  116488  Justify disclosure or non-disclosure of information in an ethical framework  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  120083  Provide trauma support under supervision  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  243641  Apply the scientific principles of dactyloscopy  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  15231  Create and use a range of resources to effectively manage teams, sections, departments or divisions  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  242710  Demonstrate an understanding of the evidential value of forensic biology evidence  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  12 
    Elective  114274  Demonstrate and apply an understanding of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (Act 75 of 1997)  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  114278  Demonstrate and apply an understanding of the Labour Relations Act (Act 66 of 1995)  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  12 
    Elective  243640  Demonstrate knowledge of embalming and special preservation techniques within the context of the working environment  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Elective  242716  Demonstrate knowledge of temperature calibration measurements  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  120492  Demonstrate the application of performance management  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  15224  Empower team members through recognising strengths, encouraging participation in decision making and delegating tasks  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  242709  Explain the evidential value of forensic biology examinations  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  12 
    Elective  243633  Explain the processes of clinical technology  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Elective  243634  Explain the scientific principles of forensic odontology  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  9897  Manage inventory  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  15230  Monitor team members and measure effectiveness of performance  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  11990  Take finger, palm and sole prints of persons for identification purposes  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  243248  Apply entomological principles in forensic investigations  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  10 
    Elective  243632  Apply forensic anthropological principles in forensic investigations  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  12 


    LEARNING PROGRAMMES RECORDED AGAINST THIS QUALIFICATION: 
     
    NONE 


    PROVIDERS CURRENTLY ACCREDITED TO OFFER THIS QUALIFICATION: 
    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
     
    NONE 



    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.