Baby left on doorstep

JUST two hours old, a newborn baby wrapped in a orange throw, wide-eyed and looking around without making a sound, was left on the doorstep of a home in Cottonwood Lane, Panorama Gardens, yesterday morning.

The tiny baby girl, nicknamed Usiphile, which means “given to us”, was believed to be just two hours old when she was found on the doorstep of the Cottonwood Lane home. The umbilical cord was still attached and untied while dried amniotic fluid was still in her hair.

Homeowner Cebo Ntombelo found the baby girl when he walked out of his house to take his two children, aged seven and eight, to school.

His wife, Cindy, said her husband found the baby on the doorstep wrapped in the throw and covered in blood.

“It was very scary but we were happy to see she was alive.

“We took her into the house as it was cold outside and then we called the police right away.

“She was very cute, and had the chubbiest little cheeks. I don’t know how any mother can carry a child for nine months and then just abandon their own baby,” said Ntombela.

ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said when paramedics arrived they immediately assessed the child and found that she had suffered mild hypothermia but was in a stable condition.

“The young patient was treated by advanced life support paramedics and transported to Northdale Hospital for further assessment and treatment.”

Pietermaritzburg SAPS spokesperson Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese said the mother of the abandoned child had been found by police and was arrested yesterday afternoon.

“We can confirm the incident and the mother has been arrested and charged with child abandonment.”

The mother is expected to appear in court today.

Child Welfare director Julie Todd said that most babies who were abandoned were born at home and not at a hospital or clinic where the baby and mother would be monitored.

“Often these women think they do not have any alternatives and their families will not accept the baby and help look after it. They feel they need to abandon the baby.”

She said Child Welfare often found that the family of the woman were “happy to accept the child” and there was no reason to abandon the baby for fear of being rejected.

“If a woman has a baby and feels she cannot keep it because of her circumstances we encourage her to bring the baby to our organisation where we will take the baby into temporary care and assist the mother.”

She said it was important to consider the best interests of the infant.

She added that if the public were to come across an abandoned baby, that they should call paramedics immediately as well as child services and police.

A report by National Adoption Coalition South Africa (Nacsa) consultant Dee Blackie published in May last year said that an estimated 3 500 babies were abandoned in South Africa in 2010.

“There are no current statistics detailing the number of children who are abandoned in South Africa on an annual basis, but most child protection organisations believe that the numbers have increased significantly over the past decade,” said Blackie’s report.

Statistics gathered in the report also showed that of the 18,5 million children in South Africa, 4,5 million do not live with their parents.

“Orphans have increased 30% over the decade to approximately 5,2 million children.

“An estimated 150 000 children live in child-headed households, over 13 000 live in residential care facilities and an estimated 10 000 live on the streets of South Africa,” said Blackie.

The report also stated that ano-nymous child abandonment is a criminal offence with mothers facing charges such as concealment of birth and attempted murder.

“Baby safes are considered illegal in terms of the Children’s Act, however, these are being opened up more frequently given the increase in abandonment,” Blackie added

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