Body exhumed as foul play accusations flyComment on this story
The body of a Chatsworth woman, whose death her family believe was suspicious, was exhumed on Tuesday.
However, the woman’s husband maintains there was no foul play and that she died in her sleep.
The body of Zainab Mohamed, 30, was exhumed at Shallcross Muslim Cemetery after a magistrate granted her family an exhumation order, more than two months after she died, apparently of natural causes.
Under the watchful eye of police forensics, a private pathologist, an imam and members of the Islamic Burial Council, cemetery workers dug into Mohamed’s grave at about 10am.
Zainab died in her bed at her home in Chatsworth on June 18.
According to a police source, her family doctor was called to examine her and he suggested that her body be taken for an autopsy.
“The doctor was concerned that there was some discolouration around her face and there was evidence of blood in her ear,” the source said.
The source said that a second doctor was called to examine the body and he declared that she had died of natural causes, and signed off on the death certificate.
Zainab was buried the same day in line with Islamic rites.
However, four days after her funeral, her family opened an inquest docket with the Chatsworth police.
Last week, a magistrate granted her family’s request to have the body exhumed.
Ahmed Paruk, chairman of the Islamic Burial Council, said they were served with the order to exhume the body last Thursday.
“The family suspect that there may be foul play involved,” Paruk said on Tuesday.
“They are very distraught at this time and request privacy.”
Zainab’s husband, Al Hadi Mohamed, who was not present during the exhumation, said he was upset that his wife’s family decided to exhume her body when they were given the opportunity for an autopsy when she died.
“When the doctor asked if we wanted an autopsy, they all said no,” he said.
“If they had doubts, they would have done it there and then. Everybody, including myself, said no to the post-mortem then. I knew then that in my heart of hearts my wife died a natural death and I did not want to put her in any more pain.”
Mohamed was also angry that the family had decided to exhume the body during the holy month of Ramadaan.
“Disturbing the dead is not allowed in our religion,” he said. “We do not believe in that.”
Mohamed had hired a private pathologist to be present for both the exhumation and the autopsy.
He denied that foul play was involved in his wife’s death and said she had died in her sleep.
“If there was any doubt, why did they allow me to come and bury their daughter?”
Mohammed said that a few days after his wife was buried, her aunts confronted him about her death.
“They specifically asked me if I killed her. They asked how a healthy person could just die. My answer is that a healthy person is not admitted into hospital 14 times over four-and-a-half years,” he said.
Mohamed, who had been married to Zainab for four years, said she had problems with her womb, suffered from severe headaches and had been diagnosed with cervical spondylosis.
“The list goes on and on,” he said.
Asked why her family would believe her death was suspicious, he said that from the start, her father did not approve of him and wanted him out of her life.
“They’re all out to defame me and they want me to go to jail for something that I never did. They can do what they want to do, the law is on my side. The truth will prevail,” he said. “When the law prevails, I want to look at all those people in the eye.”
Mohamed said that since his wife died, his life had not been the same.
“I am like a human being without a heart,” he said. “There is no woman in the whole wide world who can replace her.”
Her father Abdul Kadir Mahomed Haniff, 50, confirmed that he had asked for exhumation but declined to comment further.
However, in his statement to police he alleged Zainab, who had no children, did not die of natural causes.
“I observed blood coming out of both her ears. Her lips were blue and the right side of her face was purple. I strongly believe Zainab did not die of natural causes. I desire further police investigations into the matter,’’ said Haniff.
On Tuesday, relatives huddled in groups and talked in hushed tones as the workers took close to an hour to reach her body. Just before 11am, her body was pulled from the ground and taken to a waiting mortuary van.
The body was taken to the Pinetown mortuary where a post-mortem was to be done on Wednesday.
Daily News, The Post