South African Nurse Investigated for Smuggling Placentas.

South African Nurse Investigated for Smuggling Placentas.
South African Nurse Investigated for Smuggling Placentas.

Smuggling placentas is not a very common term and most probably unheard of. A South African hospital in North Pretoria is under investigation after a male nurse was caught smuggling placentas in boxes. This may have been from a belief that placentas could be used by traditional medicine practitioners to cure diseases.

Caught in the act.

In a busy afternoon in the South African hospital, Tshwane police flying squad who are on patrol spot suspicious behavior. The police spot a man moving boxes from his car boot to the front seat of his car. They decide to approach the man and check what was going on. They, therefore, searched the car and found loads of placentas inside the boxes. The nurse, later on, disclosed that he intended to sell the placentas to local traditional healers. However, things took a turn when the Hospital spokesman said the nurse was no longer a staff in the hospital.

“The nurse had been suspended, and security had been beefed up to prevent him doing the same” Zwide Ndwandwe the hospital spokesperson said.

Indeed, the hospital had beefed up its security to prevent similar cases. Should these mean it was a common practice for the staff in the hospital to steal placentas and resale them to local healers?

Smuggling Placentas and Other Body Organs In hospitals.

Apart from the boxes full of placentas, the police also recovered two boxes of surgical gloves and masks. These boxes of placentas were three, and each contained names on them. The 36-year-old male nurse will appear in the Pretoria magistrate’s court in a few weeks.

The very controversial use of human body organs for rituals and ‘healing’ reasons by the sangomas is not a new act. Many cases of this nature have been heard before. Other people have even resorted to cold-blooded murder to harvest the human organs and make a quick sell to eager sangomas. According to some traditional medical healers, female genitals and placentas are used to counter infertility and bring good luck.

“The placenta is considered as afterbirth.  It is usually disposed of then incinerated after the process; hence the nurse had unchecked access to the organs,” said one of the staff at the hospital.

When these body organs are sold, they are paid or compensated heavily. With this kind of money, it answers why the nurse risked his job for a quick jackpot. This is easy money to make and is very addictive.

Why Eating Placenta may be the craze.

The demand for these body parts is also high around these geographical regions. The locals have put their trust and belief in these traditional healers who sell the idea of using placentas and body parts. While in other parts of the world, munching on placentas is the hot new parenting craze. I am positive the next question lingering is why and how? Firstly, the reason several new mothers want to get down on some sweet placenta eating is that it is believed to be part of the natural birth experience. Secondly, some believe that placenta eating could help ease postpartum depression. However, there are no proven facts to support these ideas, and hospitals do not allow mothers to carry home their placentas.

You might be having the idea of “my body, my choice,” but it may not be supported. Taking or stealing of placentas is illegal, whether yours or another’s, and if caught, you will be in big trouble. Most governments have long strides to take before they get rid of these activities as it is no longer about the money aspect only but also the cultural belief that it carries along.




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