Gruesome fetus discovery

2019-12-03 06:00
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A 28-week-old fetus, wrapped in a grey T-shirt, was found in a bin on Main Road, Wynberg, close to the FNB branch on Wednesday 27 November.

Wynberg police is asking for the public’s assistance with the case.

A homeless person discovered the body hidden beneath rubbish in the bin on Wednesday afternoon.

The police were alerted by 17:00 and a stand-by detective was sent out to confirm the report.

The area was cordoned off and a forensics team and a photographer documented the evidence.

The male fetus was deceased when found and has been sent for a post mortem. Results are pending. At present, the police have no leads.

Capt Silvino Davids of the Wynberg Police Station says police officers deal with traumatic crimes, like robbery and rape, daily but that coming across an abandoned baby, buried beneath dirt left for collection, is particularly hard.

“We are not sure when the fetus was left in the bin, but it was probably no more than a day before the discovery. We appeal to the public to contact the investigating officer, Sgt Collin Naude, if they saw anything.”

Davids says at the moment a case of concealment of death is being investigated, but that a lot will depend on the findings of the autopsy.

“At 28 weeks, the baby is fully formed and it could have survived after birth. Depending on the evidence, this could end up being a case of child abandonment or even murder,” he says.

According to a 2018 study conducted by the Medical Research Council, about 3 500 children survive abandonment every year in South Africa.

It is estimated that for every one child found alive, two are found dead. Of the abandoned children, 65% are newborns and 90% are under the age of one.

Inceba Projects, a non-profit company located at 9 Quarry Street in Bellville, is one of only five Baby Saver locations in the Western Cape.

The others are located in Lavender Hill, Sun Valley, Somerset West and Grabouw.

A Baby Saver is a metal container usually built into a sidewall of a safe house.

It is hoped that, should mothers find themselves in such desperate circumstances that they feel forced to abandon their new-born baby, they will instead use the Baby Saver.

Eloise Pretorius, the centre manager at Inceba Projects, says, one baby has been received at the Bellville Baby Saver this year. Pretorius says it is important that desperate mothers know there is always hope.

“If they feel this is their only option, they need to know that there are people out there who want to help, who want to give their child a chance at life.”

She says the Baby Saver centres work together and, should they be contacted by a mother who lives closer to one of the other centres, they will make the necessary arrangements to make it as convenient as possible.

“Mothers can contact us anonymously if they feel they want to. And they don’t have to speak to us face-to-face. They can call us, send us a message through WhatsApp or they can contact us on our Facebook page,” says Pretorius.

Once a baby is placed in a Baby Saver and the door is closed, the door automatically locks.

A pressure plate activates a signal and responders are contacted. An armed response vehicle and an ambulance are also dispatched.

A local responder retrieves the baby, the ambulance crew checks the baby and then transports him or her to a local hospital, along with the responder.

There the baby has a medical check-up and social services is contacted.

The social worker takes statutory responsibility for the newborn, deals with legalities and finds temporary safe care for the baby while assessing the best permanent option (such as adoption).

“There is a number in the note found in the Baby Saver which they can call within 90 days if they change their mind. Whatever they decide, there is no judgement.”

The contact numbers are:

  • Inceba Projects – 083 992 2363
  • Helderberg Baby Saver – 082 494 0983
  • Grabouw Baby Saver – 083 380 3958
  • Hope4Babies (Sun Valley) – 072 116 5403
  • Philisa Abafazi Bethu (Lavender Hill) – 073 424 4665

  • Anyone who might have seen or knows something is asked to contact the investigating officer Sgt Collin Naude on 021 799 1400.

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