Cape Town - Over the past two weeks, seven babies have been dumped in Cape Town.
Disturbing images have plagued social media in recent weeks showcasing newborn babies wrapped in plastic and newspaper with the umbilical cord still attached.
Some were found dead and others were still alive.
This is the reality of babies being abandoned in Cape Town as we head towards the festive season.
The Department of Social Development said between April last year to March this year, 26 babies have been abandoned in Cape Town.
In July, Weekend Argus revealed that since the start lockdown in March 2020, 125 babies had been abandoned in unsafe places, 71 were dead.
This was confirmed by the Door of Hope operating director, Nadene Grabham.
This week, a seven-day-old boy was rescued by a family after he was abandoned on their doorstep in 6th Avenue Eastridge, Mitchells Plain.
Despite their heroic act, police returned the baby to the mother, who was found wandering nearby train tracks and did not follow protocol by reporting it to the police or seeking a medical report.
It was only after the Weekend Argus contacted police and the Department of Social Development that an investigation followed.
It was the heroic acts of Aqilmah Jansen, 56, her son, Shafiq Jansen, 19, sister Lizene Lewis and neighbour Nazley Chippendale, that saved the life of the newborn baby.
Jansen had been sitting at her window inside her bedroom when she noticed a woman carrying a baby and walking towards her doorstep.
“She walked to the door but did not knock and left again, and when I saw her passing, she had nothing in her arms.”
Jansen quickly alerted her son, Shafiq.
When Shafiq opened the door, he first believed the infant was dead and shouted for help.
“I called to Nazley, and she picked the baby up. The baby was wrapped in two blankets.”
Shafiq immediately made a run for it and found the mother wandering along the train tracks.
“She kept saying it was not her baby and that she did not want the baby and that she also had a two-year-old who lived with the father.”
The family called the police to their home, who refused to take the mother to the police station or see that the infant received medical attention.
When Weekend Argus contacted senior police officers at Mitchells Plain Police Station, they said statements were obtained, and an investigation opened.
The spokesperson for MEC of Social Development Sharna Fernandez, Joshua Chigome, said the matter would receive their attention.
He said there were several resources available to help mothers and that a designated social worker would be assigned to each case.
“The Department of Social Development understands that often, circumstances which lead to mothers dumping their babies can be complex,” he said. “We appeal to all expectant mothers who are unable to take care of their babies to seek assistance, either at any free clinic or to approach their nearest DSD local office or Child Designated NPO to speak to a social worker who may be able to assist with information about options suitable to the individual’s circumstances.”
“When a case of child abandonment is reported to a child protection organisation, the child protection protocol is activated whereby the matter is assigned to a designated social worker for further investigation.
“This would include conducting a safety and risk assessment of the abandoned baby as well as placement of the abandoned baby into temporary safe care pending further statutory processes. Should a person find an abandoned baby, it is advised that they contact SAPS immediately.”
He said mothers were often faced with various factors such as finance to cultural beliefs when faced with their choice.
“Biological mothers not having visible means to take care of a baby, unemployment, no fixed abode (destitute), no kinship or non-kinship support system, illegal substance abuse, having already several other children, psychological disorders, judgement from someone or community if giving a baby up for adoption / alternate care (adoption may be frowned upon in certain cultures / communities), not aware of what to do or what organisations to approach if unable to provide care for their babies. The Department offers psycho-social support services in this regard.”
Lucinda Evans, the founder of Philisa Abafazi Bethu NGO and who has a baby saver facility in Lavender Hill, said they were appealing to mothers not to dump their babies.
“We can only speak to women. If they have no options with their babies, they need to use the baby saver. The baby saver is there to save the baby’s life and to save the woman’s life. We want to beg women not to dump their babies or put them in the toilet.
“We are relocating our baby saver to 57 Strauss Road in Steenberg. Our baby saver will be operational from November 15, and we just want to say to women, there are options. They can come to us, and there will be no questions asked.”