Can SA take lessons from Namibia decriminalising baby dumping?
It is now legal to leave your baby at official government safe houses and police stations.
“We hope that children will not be dumped but they will instead be brought to safe places,” said Wilhencia Uiras, permanent secretary of the gender equality ministry.
The government hopes this will incentivise women to carry their babies to full term. If they then opt not to want the child, government will take responsibility for the child.
In South Africa, abortions are legal. However, it is illegal to abandon a child and perpetrators can be charged with attempted murder.
Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the MEC for Health in KZN, said in a statement: “We want to alert such citizens that there will always be support from government in the form of contraceptives; safe termination of pregnancy, if it’s still early enough; or putting the unwanted baby up for adoption.”
Agiza Hlongwane, the department spokesperson, said any incidents of abandoned babies should be reported to the police.
Jackie Brandfield, Bobbi Bear founder, said that abandoned children often get lost in the system, more especially when they grew older and left school.
“I stand to be corrected but I believe once abandoned children reach the age of 18, the orphanages or homes required the children to leave the home. Unless the system has changed, once they matriculate, there is no funding for them at a children’s home.”
However, the Social Development MEC’s spokesperson, Ncumisa Fandesi, said there were several programmes to assist such children.
“The department has annual awards where foster children who performed really well during their matric year are celebrated in order to inspire those who come after them,” she said.
One programme was the “Youth Academy” that assisted those who did not finish their studies to acquire skills like plumbing.