Abandoned fetus found blocking passenger jet toilet ahead of take-off in South Africa, flight grounded
A South African passenger jet was grounded after a fetus was found blocking one of its toilets just before take off.
Cleaners found the abandoned fetus in the toilet of a domestic FlySafair airliner that was scheduled to take off for an early morning flight from the coastal city of Durban to Johannesburg at around 6:15 am on Friday, June 21, according to News24.
FlySafair confirmed that flight FA411 had been delayed in a statement and said, "Upon final checks of the waste management system our teams encountered a finding which requires formal investigation from technical teams and police authorities. The issue which has unfortunately meant that the aircraft would be unable to operate this flight."
While they did not initially detail their "finding," an Airports Company South Africa spokesperson revealed that a fetus was found. Kirby Gordon, head of sales and distribution at the budget airliner, later admitted the same.
The discovery prompted the offloading of all passengers, and Gordon said their journeys had been rescheduled and that all had been booked into alternate flights by staff at the airport.
"At this stage, we are unable to comment on the finding other than to say that the relevant authorities were immediately alerted and are performing a thorough investigation," he said. "Our teams are working with the relevant parties to initiate a backup plan. At this stage, we are evaluating the time required to initiate necessary repairs versus deploying a new aircraft."
Police have also confirmed the incident and said they have launched a "concealment of birth" investigation to look into it.
"We can confirm a fetus was found in a toilet by cleaning staff inside [an] aircraft at an international airport earlier [on Friday] morning. A case of concealment of birth is [being] investigated by King Shaka Airport SAPS," KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Colonel Thembeka Mbele said in a statement to News24.
The law around the disposal and abandonment of fetal remains is complicated, reported The South African.
While the country's Section 113 of the General Law Amendment Act 46 of 1935 does criminalize concealment of birth, regardless of whether the child was born alive or died before, during or after birth, it's rare that the person responsible is found guilty of murder or even charged because it only considers situations where the fetus has reached at least 28 weeks' gestation.