Warning of more babies being abandoned as number of desperate mothers rises
Durban - The number of babies being abandoned is expected to increase during the Covid-19 lockdown and beyond due to the increasing desperation of mothers struggling to cope financially.
Last week the body of a newborn baby was found abandoned in a pile of rubbish in the city centre.
Adeshini Naicker, the acting director of Childline KZN, said in these unprecedented times, many South Africans were in economic distress.
Naicker said other factors such as chronic depression, anxiety and stress coupled with the lockdown could cause considerable fear and worry.
She said while Childline did not condone the actions of any mother abandoning her baby, they were able to look deeper into the “why?”
“In recent weeks there’s been more than one incident of infanticide in KZN. It’s worrying, especially when there are organisations and groups offering counselling services,” she said.
Naicker said there were various options for mothers to explore.
“Our call centre is operating 24/7 and our counsellors are equipped to render support or refer accordingly,” said Naicker.
Kerry Stanton, co-founder and operator of the Upper Highway Baby Home, said the rate of abandonment was increasing despite the availability of baby safes.
Stanton said the baby homes in and around Durban were all operating over capacity.
“We expect the numbers of abandoned babies to continue to rise exponentially during the lockdown period and for a while after, as the economic effects of lockdown will continue to impact,” she said.
She said the Upper Highway Baby Home appealed to mothers not to abandon their babies but to seek help.
“Contact one of the baby homes, who will direct you to a baby safe or put you in contact with someone who will help you,” urged Stanton.
Stanton said the home had been open throughout the lockdown.
Joan van Niekerk, an independent child rights and protection consultant, said one of the reasons why babies were dumped or abandoned was that young pregnant women did not know where to go for help.
“We really do need to be advertising our toll-free lines on community radio, free TV channels - and the paid ones - encouraging people to reach out and be connected to some means of assistance,” she said.
Van Niekerk also said that many of the girls and women involved did not use contraception because of partner disapproval and the hope that partners would support the child and themselves.
For assistance call the Childline crisisline at 080 0055 555 or the Upper Highway Baby Home at 0828231844.