Story By: Ana Marjanovic, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
A family who buried their 18-year-old son after he died of a mystery illness were horrified to find his body had been replaced in the coffin by a gruesome doll.
The South African family decided to exhume the teen’s grave after reports that a month after the burial he had been seen alive in a nearby town.
Now they claim powerful voodoo-style traditional magic has been used to turn their son into a zombie.
The baffling mystery unfolded in the village of Ha-Gelebe near the town of Thohoyandou in the South African province of Limpopo, reports local media.
Local journalist Yusuf Abramjee, one of many reporters and media outlets to report on the story, said on Twitter: “A boy who they claim died in March 2022 in Ha-Gelebe outside Thohoyandou and was buried…but it was later discovered that he was seen in Gauteng. His grave was dug open only to find a doll in the coffin.”
Family member Jonas Mathivha – who refuses to name the teen – told Vhembe FM radio that he suddenly fell ill and died last month.
Before his death, Jonas said the teenager had a strange dream: “He told my sister he saw a hole with needles and that there were people who were chasing him. He asked that we fight for him.”
After the teen’s death, Jonas said they kept his body at home for several hours before calling for a hearse because the body stayed eerily warm.
He told the radio station: “When a person dies, the body must become cold and hard.
“His body stayed warm and soft, that’s why we took some time to call a hearse. We believed he might wake up.”
Jonas said the body had been kept in the morgue for two weeks before the family decided to bury it in March, adding they were suspicious after claims he had been seen still alive.
He said: “We were not satisfied. We went to exhume his body on 27 April to check if indeed we had buried him.”
The relative said: “But we found a doll inside the coffin.”
Jonas insisted the victim was dead when they checked his body and now suspects he was turned into a “zombie” by someone using black magic.
After the teen was allegedly seen alive, Jonas claimed: “We are sure he was taken and turned into a zombie. It wasn’t him we buried.”
Meanwhile, a family friend told local media: “People are heartless. How can they do such a thing?
“From the mortuary to his burial it was always a doll although people, including the family, thought they saw his body.
“Strong muthi [traditional medicinal practice] was used to disguise a doll as his body.
“This is possible when family members are involved because you need to use clan names to turn a person into a zombie.
“He is used as a zombie to do evil things. Only a strong sangoma and muthi can help to bring him home.”
Limpopo police spokesperson Mamphaswa Seabi confirmed that they are aware of the family’s claims, but said it is not possible to investigate the matter.
Seabi said: “We can’t open a case of violation of a corpse because no body was found inside the coffin.”