Elizabeth Nkosi of Ward 22 in Msogwaba Trust, says her life is changed after her horrific discovery early in September.

“When I went out of the house early in the morning I saw something unimaginable. It was a foetus of a baby in my yard being eaten by dogs. The dogs had eaten an arm.’’

Msogwaba Trust a semirural community situated 25 kilometres outside Nelspruit, with a population of over 100 000 people. This community is riddled with crime, high unemployment and teenage pregnancy.

Of the two primary health care facilities servicing the area, Msogwaba and Eziweni, neither operates 24 hours and essential services like delivery for pregnant woman are not provided all the time as a result of shortage of water in the area. Although the clinics service a community with high teenage pregnancy, the clinics do not provide abortion services as required by law, and young women often resort to back street abortions.

Abortion is only available at Robs Ferreira and Themba hospitals and a return transport fare costs R40, which is too much for many.

John Sibanyoni, a respected elder in the community said: “In my culture these are things we are not supposed to see. It shows that some women doesn’t have humanity in them.  I wonder who this woman is and where she lives. No matter how hard life is, it doesn’t make it right to abort a pregnancy and dump it like this. If she’s even here, how does she feel to see young children looking the foetus? Because the lives of these children will never be the same and now I believe this saying “umfati ufa ati” meaning “a woman dies with her secrets.”

Police were called to collect the remaining foetus for evidence and the matter is still under investigation.

Nomcebo Mazibuko, 35, a community home-based carer, said: ‘’Our government needs to do something about the provision of termination of pregnancy to women. The two facilities in this community are not providing this service and most of the health care professionals are against it. As a result, unemployed women can’t afford to pay R1 300 for this service at private clinics.

“That’s why some women use the services of bogus doctors who claim to provide it at a cheaper rate, or they use the services of a township sangoma, who sometimes use unsterilised instruments to perform the procedure.’’

She said women’s health and even their lives were endangered through backstreet abortions, which can lead to death, severe bleeding, damage to the cervix, genitals and abdoment, internal infection and blood poisoning. There is an increased risk of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and premature delivery in subsequent pregnancies.

Data on the number of women who die due to illegal abortion is not available as most of these cases are unreported or are reported as maternal mortality.