Yaounde- Cameroon (PANA) -- "The stomach of a dead person must always be opened to determine the cause of death," insists Sebastien Sabze, a specialist in "traditional autopsy" in Dschang, a locality on the western highlands of Cameroon.
In Dschang, like in all other localities of the Bamileke ethnic community in the country's West Province where death is rarely attributed to natural causes, such post-mortems are quite commonplace.
People attending the ritual for the first time are simply horrified.
Only last 7 December, Sabze carried out a traditional autopsy on a two-year old baby girl, even though the child drowned in a well in the capital, Yaounde while playing with a neighbour's son.
A few minutes before the burial Sabze, armed with phials (supposed to contain a magic potion) and a dagger, sliced open the abdomen of the body, which had been laid out by her tomb on a towel.
He shoved his bear hands in the girl's stomach, pulled out the viscera and after some incantations, shoved the organs back in before pronouncing his verdict.
"The child had already died seven times.
The spell had long been there, hidden under the spleen.
She was possessed by evil spirits and will be reincarnated through an animal," the witchdoctor declared solemnly.
With an air of accomplishment, he washed his hands with plenty of water and soap.
Sabze and fellow "specialists" in traditional autopsy fend off critics who denounce the practice as a desecration of the human body, contending that it helps clear the air as to whether death was natural or induced, particularly they this occurs in mysterious circumstances.
"Assassins should pay with their lives for the crimes commit.
That is why we track them through the bodies of their victims," noted witchdoctor Moise Tchambe, 60, from the Bamileke locality of Mbouda.
In the West Province traditional autopsy is systematically carried out on the dead, regardless of their social status or the circumstances of their death.