Pregnant women generally look forward to meeting their little bundle of joy and spending many a happy year watching him or her crawl, walk, talk, and grow.
Sadly, Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi perished while nine months pregnant after experiencing shortness of breath at her home. Already a mother of five children, the 33-year-old Modyi was from the South African village of Mthayisi, which is located in the Eastern Cape province.
Ten days later, at the funeral parlor to which Modyi’s body was brought, the woman ‘gave birth’ to the child with which she was pregnant. Staff noticed the baby, which was stillborn, in the coffin with its mother.
This occurred the night before Modyi’s funeral was supposed to be held. In the end, the mother and baby were buried together in one large coffin last Saturday.
The owner of the funeral parlor, Fundile Makalana, said that the staff of the funeral parlor was so shocked and frightened by the sight of the still born baby that they didn’t even check its sex. His staff, he said, is truly traumatized by the bizarre incident.
Makalana, who has been in the business for over 20 years, added that he had never heard of a dead woman giving birth. He said that the stomach area of the corpse was bloated after the birth.
According to medical experts, the ‘birth’ could have been the result of muscle relaxation; alternatively, it could have been gasses or bacteria building up in the mother’s corpse. It isn’t known, and likely never will be, if the baby could have been saved had different medical techniques been applied when Makalana fell ill.
Naturally, the occurrence has merely fueled the grief of Modyi’s family. Her mother, Mandzala Mdoyi, is taking it all particularly hard. She said the death of her daughter devastated her, and the news that she had given birth 10 days later was the shock of her life.
Mandzala Mdoyi went on to implore “educated people” too cool the family down and explain how such a thing could be possible. She’s over the age of 70 and had never heard of such thing happening, and can’t understand why it happened to her child.
She prayed for God to “come and intervene”.
Someone acting as a spokesperson for the family, Mbikelwa Mpithi, revealed that medical experts as well as traditional healers of South Africa—sangomas—will be consulted in order to ascertain precisely what happened.
Apparently it was suggested to the family that witchcraft might have been at work, but the family wisely chose to ignore that suggestion. As was the plan, the coffin containing mother and child was cremated after a proper funeral.
The belief that illness is caused by witchcraft isn’t terribly uncommon in parts of South Africa, and it isn’t unusual to contact spiritual healers in lieu of or in addition to western-trained doctors. It has been estimated that there are as many as 200,000 “traditional healers” in the country, but only about 25,000 doctors, and traditional healers are often contacted first. Divination is a tool typically employed by sangomas, and they could be described as fortune tellers of sorts. Many of them are trained as herbalists.
Many in South Africa also believe that contract with a spiritually impure object or ancestor neglect can cause illness. Ancestors must be honored through the sacrifice of animals and certain rituals.
While their beliefs may seem strange to many of us, sangomas are legally recognized in the country of South Africa.
The story of Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi, her family, and her poor stillborn baby is truly a tragic one. You can’t help but feel for the deceased woman’s mother, who despite being at a relatively advanced age, had never heard of a baby being ‘born’ after death.
Although relatively rare, what happened in this story actually isn’t a unique occurrence; similar incidents have been reported all over the world, in fact. The technical term for what happened to the body of Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi is “post mortem fetal extrusion”, and intra-abdominal gasses are generally to blame for the expulsion of the dead or non-viable fetus. It is also referred to as coffin birth, and it is more common in women—like Mdoyi—who have had multiple children prior to death.
Technically, what happens isn’t a birth, it just sort of resembles childbirth.
Cases of coffin birth have actually been recorded for over 400 years; in fact, the earliest recorded cases occurred during the Spanish Inquisition. This happened in 1551, when a pregnant woman was tried and hung. Hours later, while her body was still hanging, two infants were seen falling from the body. That case was unusual because of the short amount of time between the death of the woman and the coffin birth.
There have been recent cases of coffin birth, as well. For example, in 2005, a 34-year-old woman in Germany who was eight months pregnant died of a heroin overdose. When found, doctors noted coffin birth in progress. In 2008, a woman was murdered in Panama; when found 4 days later, authorities noted the presence of fetal remains in her undergarments.
While Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi’s case isn’t totally unique, it is still extremely tragic, and we can only hope that she—not to mention her son or daughter—is at peace.
H/T – Source