The N1 leading out of Johannesburg towards Grasmere plaza. File picture: Antoine de Ras

Johannesburg - Gauteng traffic police believe a 16-month-old toddler was purposely abandoned alongside the N1 near Grasmere on Thursday night.

This was after the child narrowly missed being hit by a truck travelling along the route. The truck driver noticed the little boy walking alone on the dark road at about 7pm.

“We suspect the child was dropped off on the freeway as there are no houses around there from which he could have walked out of,” traffic police spokesman Obed Sibasa said on Thursday morning.

“Traffic police patrolling the area noticed the truck swerving and trying to avoid killing the poor innocent soul. When officers got to the child, he looked panicked and unsure of where he was.”

Sibasa said the child looked unkempt, and officers couldn’t be sure if his nappy had been changed.

“It was indeed disturbing – the child probably cried and cried until there were no more tears left and he was just wandering around, confused.”

The child was taken to a place of safety on Thursday night.

The case is being investigated by the police and Sibasa said traffic authorities would keep tabs on it too.

“Police are busy with investigations and will try to trace the mother; as long as she is still alive, we will find her.”

The Gauteng Department of Social Development would make sure the child was cared for until his parents could be traced.

“When we have such situations where a child is abandoned, the child is transferred to us. We then get a court order from a magistrate to enable us to place the child at an NGO or in foster care,” a spokesman said.

According to the Gauteng Department of Health, 89 babies were abandoned between January and August last year. In 2012, 135 babies were abandoned and 136 in 2011.

Welfare organisations said while the department had noticed a decline in babies abandoned at hospitals, the number abandoned at social welfare institutions was on the increase.

The Star