Villagers feared that witchcraft was involved in the death of a 33-year-old woman who gave birth to a stillborn baby, ten days after she died. So, they called for her body and that of the ‘devil’ child to be burned!
The incident happened in the village of Mthayisi in South Africa’s southern Eastern Cape province.
Mother-of-five Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi, 33, complained of chest pains and shortness of breath at home, shortly before collapsing to the ground. Her dead body was brought to the funeral parlor but because it would bloat to twice its size, the staff decided to build a special coffin for her body to fit inside.
They kept her on the mortuary table as the family held the wakes. Ten days after she died, the coffin was ready.
The funeral parlor staff prepared for Nomveliso’s body to be moved to her coffin for the funeral but were shocked to find a dead baby between her legs! What sorcery is this?
Fundile Makalana, the funeral director for Lindokuhle Funeral Home, released a statement to the press:
When we took the body from the mortuary tray to her coffin we discovered that there was a newly born baby between her legs.
The baby was dead. We were so shocked and frightened that we did not even have time to look at the gender of the baby.
I have been in the business for more than 20 years and I have never heard of a dead woman giving birth.
Meanwhile, Nomveliso’s family was struck with fresh grief as well as horror over the situation, especially because the villagers are urging them to burn her body and that of the ‘devil’ child.
Mandzala Mdoyi, Nomveliso’s mother, was overcome with grief and was feeling bewildered about this whole thing.
We appeal to educated people, people who know better, to please cool us down and explain to us how it is possible for a dead woman to give birth.
I am now over 70 years old and never heard of such a thing. Why is that happening to my child?
First, I was devastated by the untimely death of my daughter and now I got the shock of my life to learn that she had given birth while she had been dead for 10 days. What is that? God please come and intervene?
They eventually buried the mother and child together but fears continue to hound the village about this strange witchcraft.
Medical experts would later explain to the family that while the occurrence rarely happens, there had been a lot of previous reports of a dead woman giving birth to a child some days after she died. Grave diggers have also shared similar experiences of finding a child’s bones between the legs of a woman in the grave.
According to medical experts, this is the result of the muscles contracting and relaxing in death, most likely due to the action of bacteria decomposing the body. This leads to the expulsion of the fetus outside the woman’s body, just like in giving birth.
It is unknown whether Nomveliso’s child could have been saved had the doctors provided other treatment options or performed a C-section right after her death.