New Year baby’s tough start

2009-01-01 00:00

Weighing a healthy 3,26 kg, a sound baby girl was ushered into the world a few minutes after 1 am yesterday morning, making her Addington’s first New Year’s baby.

However, a mixture of joy and pain could best sum up the circumstances surrounding the birth of the baby, whose mother is a 15-year-old orphan.

The young mother, whose name is known to The Witness, found herself living in squalid conditions in Durban’s Mansel Road, with an aunt who sells goods at the taxi rank at Durban Station.

The girl was allegedly raped by a cousin.

According to the girl’s older sister, they lost their mother in 2006. The girl was left in the care of her uncle in Maphumulo, along with her younger sister, now nine.

However, when in Durban, the girl fell pregnant under what the KZN Health Department believes to be limited parental care and supervision at the overcrowded home.

The girl claims the baby was fathered by her boyfriend, living next door to the one-room apartment they share with a number of relatives.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, the teenage mother said she believes God wanted her to have the baby. She said will make sure the baby grows up healthy, though she does not know how.

Although her older sister was unhappy about the fact that her sister got pregnant at 14, she said she can’t do much about it now.

“My sister and I are very close and it saddens me that she has a baby so young with no way of supporting it. But I do believe that the rape played a role in this because she was never a naughty child and I think this could have been just a one-night stand.”

The sister, a school dropout herself, said she supports her siblings with a support grant she gets for her two children, both under the age of three.

Although she said the baby’s father is a schoolboy, the sister could not confirm whether he is a minor.

Yoliswa Mbele, acting head of the KZN Health Department, said the department is very concerned about the increasing number of child rape victims in the province.

She said it is even worse when girls are forced into parenthood because their families and communities cannot protect them.

Health spokesman for the province Chris Maxon said the department is already working in partnership with the Social Welfare Department to ensure that the baby and its mother are brought up in safe conditions and that they are given full health care support and the services needed by a mother who can’t support her child.

“We will also be providing counselling for the mother,” he said. The department will scale up campaigns to reduce child rape and teen pregnancy by engaging other departments, traditional leaders and faith-based, women’s and community-based organisations in an effort to rally support, he added.

Maxon has called for members of the community who wish to offer support to contact the hospital’s public relations officer at 031 327 2000.

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