Durban - Berea police officers have struggled to find a care facility for a baby who was found abandoned on Sunday night.
The baby boy, who is thought to be about 10 days old, was kept at the Berea police station overnight.
The next day, several child centres turned them away. One informed them of the onerous requirements for leaving the child with them, including obtaining a district surgeon’s report and court authorisation.
“So, it is really difficult for a baby who is found in the middle of the night to be accepted into any child-care centre or babies’ home,” said a child welfare source, who expressed frustration at the red tape.
Berea police were called after a resident found the baby boy wrapped in a green King Edward VIII Hospital sheet on a Youngs Avenue property on Sunday night.
The officers clothed and fed the baby. They kept him at the station overnight and went in search of a child-care centre the next morning, according to a police source.
The facilities they approached in Sydenham and uMlazi said they only took children from a certain age.
“The centre in Sydenham was fantastic. They provided the baby with his required nutrition and clothed him in a yellow romper and white receiver.
“Unfortunately, they could not admit him,” said the source.
A Child Welfare Durban and District employee confirmed police had brought a baby to the facility in Sydenham. However, he could not be admitted because of paperwork complications relating to the Children’s Act.
“There is an admission procedure which entails the police completing necessary documents before a child can be accepted into a care centre. This involves validating and completing a Form 36, The paperwork involves a district surgeon’s report and court authorisation.”
The baby was taken to Addington Hospital on Monday to be examined by the district surgeon and then to court. Police are also investigating.
Justin Foxton, chief executive of the Peace Agency, an NGO involved in arranging homes for abandoned babies, expressed concern about the number of abandoned babies and the scarcity of adoptive parents.
“There is definitely a crisis when it comes to the amount of babies that are left abandoned. Last year, there were around 3 500 abandoned babies countrywide and only 1 426 adoptions,” said Foxton.
“We need more people to come forward (to adopt) these children.”
He said would-be adoptive parents were screened to determine their suitability.
Foxton said the normal procedure when a baby was found abandoned was for the child to be taken to the district surgeon to be examined. Thereafter, the child was taken to court. A social worker was assigned to the baby, who would then be taken to a place of safety.
“It can sometimes take between four months to a year before a baby is moved from a temporary place of safety into permanent care,” he said.
Berea police said the baby was taken to a place of safety in KwaDabeka on Monday.