Newborn’s body found in canal

2019-05-16 06:01
The body of a newborn was found in murky waters of this canal along Broadway Road last week.PHOTO: Mzwanele Mkalipi

The body of a newborn was found in murky waters of this canal along Broadway Road last week.PHOTO: Mzwanele Mkalipi

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A scrap collector found the body of fully-grown newborn in a water canal in Desert informal settlement last Thursday (9 May).

The man, who made the disturbing discovery in the canal along Broadlands Road, immediately alerted Lwandle police.

A photograph of the scene shows the umbilical cord still attached to the newborn. It is believed the infant had been stuffed into a plastic bucket before being dumped. The canal is located just behind homes in Desert, Lwandle.

Sergeant Mthokozisi Gama, spokesperson for Lwandle police, confirmed the discovery and said police have opened an inquest docket.

“On Thursday 9 May at 13:50, police were alerted to the discovery of a newborn floating in a canal by a community member,” he said.

“On arrival at the scene, the police found the body with no sign of life.”

According to Gama, police suspect the mother may have given birth and dumped the child.

He said the infant’s body was in an advanced state of decomposition and its gender and age were not known, but were expected to be determined by an autopsy.

Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver, believes child abandonment is becoming endemic across South Africa.

“There are many issues involved in this complex situation, not least being the fact that there is no safe haven law in South Africa, which means even safe abandonment – handing your newborn in at a clinic, police station, hospital and so on, with no questions asked – is not legal in this country,” she said.

South Africa also does not have “abandonment” as a crime category, so no statistics are being collated, which could put pressure on authorities to take action, Immelman added.

She further said South Africa has a very high rate of rape, many which go unreported, with more than 80% perpetrated by someone known to the victim.

This can lead to concealment of pregnancy.

“If you are under 18, you cannot put your baby up for adoption without your parents’ or guardians’ consent, which can also lead to concealment,” Immelman continued.

“If you are an illegal immigrant, you also cannot access adoption for fear of deportation.”

Furthermore, there are also cultures in South Africa that do not agree with adoption and the severing of ancestral roots, she added.

“There are many people who do not agree with abortion and shame women who come for help, instead of providing full options for counselling,” Immelman said.

“The list goes on – poverty, drug abuse and lack of education on existing options.”

She implored women who find themselves pregnant to seek help as soon as possible and not to wait until the baby is born.

“There are social workers and child protection agencies that can be accessed,” Immelman pointed out. “Find out what your options are regarding abortion, adoption, fostering and so on.

“The Helderberg Baby Saver works in partnership with Wandisa Adoption Agency, which can assist you.”

The Helderberg Baby Saver is a safe built in wall of the Choices Pregnancy Centre in Schapenberg Road, Somerset West.

Once a baby is placed in the safe, an alert is sent to emergency services and security, who will immediately attend to the child. The identity of the mother will not be known.

Visit www.openarmssa.org to find out more about the existing options available to pregnant women.

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