Men who impregnate girls under 16 will be charged with statutory rape - Simelane-Zulu
Durban - As of Wednesday evening, a total of 95 New Year babies had been born, KwaZulu-Natal's health department said, with the youngest mother being only 14.
The little bundles included 47 boys and 48 girls, with the first child being born at midnight at Ladysmith Hospital.
Some of the tots and their mums at Durban's King Dinuzulu Hospital were visited by health minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize and KZN premier Sihle Zikalala on Wednesday morning.
The hospital was recently refurbished with a new state-of-the-art emergency centre.
"This is part of government’s delivery on the commitments made in the Presidential Health Compact through the Public Health Infrastructure Refurbishment Programme," said the department.
Mkhize and Zikalala also spent time inspecting the upgrades and interacting with patients and health care workers at the facility.
The department said that among the mothers who gave birth on January 1 was the 14-year-old child.
In a statement issued by the department on Christmas day, the province's health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, warned men who impregnated girls under the age of 16 that they would be charged with statutory rape as government finally enforced existing legislation.
Simelane-Zulu described statutory rape as a form of gender-based violence. The tradition of paying "reparations" for "damage" caused by impregnating young girls would not absolve offenders from prosecution, she said.
The Western Cape had a slightly smaller New Year's birth tally, with 58 babies born in public health facilities in the province by mid-afternoon on Wednesday.
The first was a boy who was born at the stroke of midnight in the Mowbray Maternity Hospital, followed a quarter of an hour later by a little boy born in Paarl Hospital.
A total of seven babies was born in Paarl Hospital on Wednesday, making it the busiest maternity unit in the province on New Year's Day, the provincial health department said.
Six babies drew their first breath in the Kraaifontein Community Health Centre and another six were born at the Mowbray facility.
Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said she would like to congratulate the parents of the newborns.
"We wish them the very best with new additions to their families. We continue to emphasise that the first 1000 days of a child’s life is very important. Provide them with a safe environment and good nutrition."
African News Agency (ANA)