News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday July 22nd 2019

Abandoned babies on the increase in SA

Abandoned babies are an increasingly common South African phenomenon, with Child Welfare South Africa saying latest annual figures – not yet finalised – are pointing to an ten percent increase on the over 2000 babies abandoned last year.

And the Child Welfare SA (CWSA) stats do not include those compiled by the Cape Town and Johannesburg branches, with the Cape Town figures having more than doubled over the past year.

While some babies are left at hospitals or safe houses, many are dumped on rubbish sites and left to die of starvation or suffocation.

CWSA senior manager of the national programme for child protection said their 2008/2009 figures (roughly calculated from mid-year points) indicated about R2 500 babies and young children were abandoned or deserted by their mothers.

The figures for 2009/2010 were in the process of being finalised, but they were pointing to a 10 percent increase on this figure, said Briede.

But she said these figures excluded the Johannesburg and Cape Town metropolitan areas.

Cape Town appears to worst place to risk being born.

Executive director of Cape Town Child Welfare Niresh Ramklass said between 500 and 600 babies and children had been abandoned during 2009/2010.

The figure for 2008/2009 was 212.

Johannesburg Child Welfare office assistant director Carol Bews said since September last year they rescued an average of 15 babies a month whereas before that it was about 10 to 12 babies a month.

“There’s fear that we’re sitting on a trend where women think it’s okay to fall pregnant and then simply abandon the baby,” said Ramklass,

He said the worst part of it was the inhumane way babies were often dumped in toilets or at dump sites or public parks.

“Babies were also found at school yards so we suspect teenage pregnancy, while foreign babies were also abandoned after their mothers fled back home to their respective countries.”

The Child Welfare Durban and District office, included in the CWSA figures, dealt with 66 cases of child abandonment during the 2009/10 period said director Lisa Parsee.

“We are forced to turn children away because we can’t contain the numbers,” said Parsee.

Additionally, most of the abandoned babies required special care because they were HIV positive or may have been exposed to health risks from being left at a dump site.

Parsee said it was predominantly HIV positive women and victims of rape who abandoned their babies.

The toll of HIV also contributed to the phenomenon of ‘border babies’ who were left with no next-of-kin claiming them after the mother died of illness in hospital.

The growth and development of rescued babies was often stunted and it was difficult to find homes for those who were HIV positive, she said.

Jackie Schoeman, director of Cotlands, an organisation providing temporary accommodation for very young abandoned children until a permanent home was found, said the adoption process was “tricky” if none of the child’s family could be traced.

Child abandonment was a symptom of poverty and hopelessness and often all it would take to change a mother’s decision to abandon her baby would be to tell them where they could get help, said Schoeman.

Door of Hope in Johannesburg has a ‘drop off bin’ where mothers can leave their babies, and they receive about five babies every month, said social worker Lindy Ngombane.

But she said many babies were in very poor health. Some were physically abused while others had even been bitten by rats. As a result, some of the babies died despite their efforts to give them the best medical care possible, she said. – Yugendree Naidoo, West Cape News

Abandoned babies on the increase in SA
Tags: childwelfaresa, cotlands, doorofhope, HIV

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