“My mother was frightened when she heard me cry. She thought the pills she had taken would make me die, but I fought for life.
“She picked me up for a moment, one small touch of warm hands. Then she placed me in the pit latrine.”
Baby 12599 drowned in the water and in the filth.
“Now I lie in an unmarked grave. I wonder what I would have looked like today. I am Baby 12599. I died on the day I was born.”
This true account of Baby 12599’s brief, tragic life is being run by child protection activists as part of the “I am NOT a Number, #IAM...” campaign to mark Child Protection Week this week.
These are just a few of these children’s stories on the Babies Matter Facebook page, which is run by the Shaken, Abused and Abandoned Baby Initiative.
Each child’s story is a case that has been investigated in the past year. All the children’s names have been changed to safeguard their identities.
But what all these children have in common is that they were not protected, hence the hashtag for the campaign, #IWASNOTPROTECTED, explains veteran child activist Luke Lamprecht, the founder of the Babies Matter campaign.
“While everyone is handing out ribbons and T-shirts and going rah-rah about everything they’re doing for South Africa’s children this week, we need to remember each and every individual child that has been lost how many children we have failed to protect since last year’s Child Protection Week,” Lamprecht says.
I am Mary. Soon after I was born my mother got cancer. One day I couldn’t stop crying and my mother shook me very hard. I started bleeding on my brain and behind my eyes. I have cerebral palsy and I struggle with things other children find easy.
I am Mary, I am a shaken baby.
I am Refilwe. I am severely disabled.
A man at my day care raped me every day while my mother was at work.
My mother found out and took me to the hospital. The doctor said I had been raped a lot but did not offer us any counselling.
My mother pressed charges.
The police dropped the charges because I cannot walk or talk.
They said I can’t testify because I cannot tell anyone what happened.
I have no voice to voice my pain, and no one will help my mother.
I am Refilwe, I was raped repeatedly and authorities do not care.
I am Jessica. I am four years old. I live with my mother and her boyfriend.
He has been forcing me to have sex with him. My sister, too.
Recently, while they were using drugs, he forced me into the bath and raped me there.
My sister was there too, and my mother recorded it.
I heard them say they would sell the video to buy more drugs.
I don’t want them to do this again.
I am Jessica. Please help me.
I am Jordan. I was three when I died.
My stepfather beat me up and my mother did nothing.
He hit me on the head and I started to bleed.
He wouldn’t stop.
He put me in boiling water and burnt my whole body.
The water cooked my nail beds and my feet.
Then someone redressed me in my pyjamas and put me back to bed.
The pain was unbearable and I died the next day.
I am Jordan.
I am dead.
I am Patricia.
I was three when I died.
The abuse started as soon as my stepfather moved in with us.
He would throw me against walls when he got angry.
He kicked me in the stomach.
Once my mom threw me from my bedroom because I wet the bed.
I landed on something hard and my body hurt for a long time.
Even though they knew, no one in authority wanted to help.
After I died the experts said that almost every inch of my body was bruised.
I am Patricia.
I am dead.
The Saturday Star