Unidentified bodies were fuelling the crisis, she said, occupying about 130 of the storage fridges at Salt River. Martin said that at Salt River, space constraints had resulted in bodies being stored in refrigerator shipping containers.
"Here, hopefully, we won't have the containers, but if we have murders at this rate what else is there to do?" she asked.
Although by law health authorities can keep unidentified bodies for only 30 days, in reality they are kept for months until police can identify them.
The new three-storey building, at the entrance of Groote Schuur Hospital, will enable better integration of forensic pathology services, the National Health Laboratory Service and academic staff from the University of Cape Town.
Set to be completed in October, the facility will include four dissection suites with six tables each, as well as teaching and training dissection suites.
There will be 360 refrigerated body spaces, 180 admission fridges and 180 dispatch fridges.
Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said the new mortuary would admit its first body in January.
It would also accommodate students training in pathology, and crime investigators.