By Nthakoana Ngatane
On behalf of all mothers I apologise to ‘Mathato for how we have ignored her pain of losing her baby, for blaming her for the death of her child, and for vilifying her and making her look crazy for digging up her dead baby and sleeping with a corpse.
Any mother who loses a child already blames herself every day for the rest of her life – ask me, I know.
That the neighbours and some family members said ‘Mathato killed her child was both cruel and criminal.
Who is ‘Mathato you ask?
She is a woman who nursed her sick baby, took her to a clinic, was given medication, gave her too much of that medicine because she was desperate, but the baby still died.
She is a mother who wasn’t allowed to grieve the death of her child because she was too busy defending herself from accusations that she killed her.
She is a mother who received no words of comfort from those around her, but instead her worst fears, that she was responsible for the death of the child, were confirmed by those around her.
No one told ‘Mathato that she shouldn’t blame herself, and no one cared enough to help her get through her grief, she was all alone.
‘Mathato is a human being who lost all sense of reality and existed only in her head since her baby died.
For six months she has been hearing repeatedly the voice and possibly cries of a six-month old in her head every day since April – for six whole months.
She says all day, every hour, everyday she could hear the voice of the baby saying “I am cold but you are warm. I am hungry but you are eating; how can you live with yourself after killing an innocent soul?”
I want to assume that ‘Mathato couldn’t eat or sleep without hearing this voice.
So I am not surprised that ‘Mathato decided one day to take a shovel in the middle of the night, dig the grave and exhume her baby to stop the voices in her head.
None of us know the hell that ‘Mathato was going through when she felt that the only thing left was for her to do the unthinkable, sleep with her dead baby’s corpse.
It is a shame that the village and the chief didn’t think of everything that I have said here because if they did they wouldn’t have made her a spectacle – “sebonoang se bonoa ke bohle”.
They wouldn’t have recorded her on video for the world to see ‘Mathato as a monster now waiting to be charged with a crime.
WE call elderly people with dementia “baloi” just because they can’t explain why they are in front of our house.
WE as a society are that village that vilified ‘Mathato.
WE are collectively responsible for ‘Mathato’s state of mind.
WE all must make sure that she gets the help that she needs – a chance to grieve and therapy to understand that the voice that she is hearing is not her baby but her own thoughts, and how to make them stop.