Durban — The body of a newborn baby was found on the side of the road in Merebank, Durban, on Wednesday.
PT Alarms spokesperson Dhevan Govindasamy said the newborn’s body was discovered on Nasik Road.
“PT Alarms Tactical Unit responded to a call from a client stating he’d discovered a deceased newborn baby on Nasik Road, in Merebank, earlier today (Wednesday),” Govindasamy said. “The circumstances surrounding the dumping of the baby will be investigated by Wentworth SAPS, who were on the scene.”
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala said that Wentworth police have opened an inquest docket following an incident that occurred on October 18, 2023, at Nasik Road.
“It is alleged that the body of a baby boy was found dead on the road. The circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated,” Gwala said.
Meanwhile, IFP spokesperson on Social Development, Liezl Linda van der Merwe, said the IFP was shocked to receive a notice issued by the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) declaring that “the practice of ‘baby saver/ haven box’ structures and services are illegal” and that Gauteng NPO-run Child and Youth Care centres must “immediately cease such practice and close such services within the province”.
Van der Merwe said the IFP and various other opposition parties have long been engaging on the issue of unsafe abandonment of babies at the national parliamentary level with the DSD.
She said that while there are no annual statistics available, in 2010, Child Welfare SA estimated that more than 3 500 babies had been abandoned that year alone.
“If one considers the ever-increasing cost of living, unemployment and other social ills, it is easy to imagine this number would have grown substantially since then,” Van der Merwe stated.
“This heart-breaking phenomenon is not the practice of hardened criminals: often those abandoning babies are mere children themselves, or the pregnancies are the product of abuse or GBV. They often have nowhere to turn to and nobody to help them.
“While we respect the rule of law and the provisions in the Children’s Act relating to parental responsibilities and child abandonment, let us not act in a manner that will further harm vulnerable children,” Van der Merwe continued.
She said life supersedes all other rights, for without life, all other rights are irrelevant.
“The IFP is not supporting the normalisation of child abandonment or promoting the birth mother relinquishing her parental responsibility with no consequences – we are advocating support for measures to save the lives of these vulnerable and defenceless children who have no one to speak for them,” Van der Merwe said.
“This is why we support organisations that form part of the Baby Savers’ national coalition; a group of organisations that have been working for many years to end unsafe infant abandonment.”
She said child abandonment is happening now – despite it being illegal. Removing what is possibly the only chance of survival that these babies have, will not help to end unsafe child abandonment, it will only exacerbate the situation.
“We are disappointed in the Gauteng DSD’s inability to appreciate the nuances involved when it comes to this very challenging issue – particularly when the NGOs working in this space have maintained open lines of communication with the department, and their motivation is to save lives.
“As the IFP, we will write to the minister of Social Development and the chairperson of the portfolio committee on social development to draw their attention once again to this crisis, in the hope that they will step in before more innocent lives are lost,” Van der Merwe said.
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