A rural community was left stunned and baffled after a dead woman’s expelled a foetus inside a coffin.
The bizarre “coffin birth” has left some people crying witchcraft after a 33-year-old mother of five, Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi, of Mthayisi village near Mbizana gave birth.
This was discovered by funeral parlour staff 10 days after her death and on the eve of her funeral.
Staff at the parlour in Mbizana, were left traumatised by the incident.
Both the stillborn infant and the mother were buried in one big coffin on Saturday.
Many at the funeral had never heard of a dead woman giving birth – but several incidents of this kind have been reported in other countries around the world.
The Dispatch spoke to a number of medical specialists who were surprised, but said a foetus could be expelled if the mother dies, either during both the contraction and relaxation of muscles during death or later as bacteria began to cause changes.
One veteran, Dr Patrick Hutchinson, of East London stated that the birth was a result of natural and not supernatural phenomena. (See sidebar story)
Mandzala Mdoyi, 76, the the mother of the woman said her daughter had died suddenly after becoming short of breath at her home in Mthayisi village, 30km outside Mbizana.
“We appeal to the 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 on my child?
“First, I was devastated by the untimely dead 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?” the grieving mother said.
Despite suggestions by some people to burn both the mother and the child on suspicion of witchcraft, the family decided to give them both a decent funeral.
The family said when the Nomveliso died she was nine months pregnant.
Lindokuhle Funeral owner Fundile Makalana said that his staff had been shocked to discover that the woman had given birth.
“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 sex 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.”
He said that the body was bloated to almost double regular size especially the abdomen and the breasts and the woman had to have a specially designed coffin.
“Even after birth the stomach area was still bloated. She was put in one coffin with the baby,” said Makalana
Family spokesman Mbikelwa Mpithi said that due to the trauma of death, Nomveliso had given birth as she died.
“This remains a mystery to us,” said Mpithi.
The family said that they would consult both medical experts and sangomas to find out more about the mysterious birth.
“We cannot sit down and fold our hands as if it is business as normal. We want to know more about this,” said Mpithi.
Mourners who travelled from KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape to attend the funeral, left the event shocked. — firstname.lastname@example.org