Baby locked in car

2015-07-24 09:29
The scene of the previous incident where the two toddlers were locked in while their parents went shopping at Liberty Midlands Mall, after its window was broken into by paramedics with a crowbar.

The scene of the previous incident where the two toddlers were locked in while their parents went shopping at Liberty Midlands Mall, after its window was broken into by paramedics with a crowbar. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - The parents of a three-month-old ­baby could be charged after it was alleged they had locked their baby in their car before going shopping at Cascades Centre on Wednesday morning.

A car guard who was nearby heard the baby crying and approached the car window to find the baby locked inside and crying “hysterically”.

Car guard Thandi Sithole said she tried for 15 minutes to calm the baby down through the car window by singing and speaking to it before calling mall security.

“I alerted mall security and someone called the police but I went inside the mall to try and find the parents because I remembered what they looked like.

“I was tapping on the window and singing just to try and get the baby to calm down, but she would not stop crying.”

Police and emergency services arrived at Cascades to find the baby locked in the car.

The parents exited the mall shortly after emergency services arrived and allegedly told police that it was a mistake and that they were only in the centre for a few minutes.

Another Cascades Centre car guard, who asked not to be named, said she often saw parents leave their children in cars whilst they went to shop.

“They leave the children in the car, some of them very young, with closed windows and just lock the car and walk off.

“They don’t even let us [car guards] know. If they let us know we could monitor them. They just leave and it is not right.”

University of KwaZulu-Natal MSc Agrometeorology student Stha Luthuli, who is conducting her masters on the societal impacts of adverse weather, said people did not often realise the dangers they were putting their children in by leaving them in a locked car.

“Even if the window is rolled right down, my studies have shown that it makes very little difference to the temperature inside the car, especially on a hot day.

“It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, you should not leave a child in the car for any amount of time.”

Luthuli said with last Friday’s incident of two children being locked in their parents car at Liberty Midlands Mall, upon studying the photo of the car published in The Witness on Saturday, she had found the parents’ car to be facing north.

“That car seems to be facing north, according to the way the shadows are falling. That means the car was directly underneath the sun and the hottest place for the car to be.”

Pietermaritzburg Child Welfare director Julie Todd said it was irresponsible parenting to leave children locked in a car.

“It is never alright to leave a child in a car for any amount of time.

“Anything could happen, the child could become ill or the car could be hijacked with the child inside.

“There is no reason for a parent to leave their child locked up in a car these days because malls have trolleys and carts that you can carry your children around in while you shop. There is just no excuse.”

Pietermaritzburg SAPS spokesperson Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese said on Thursday that the parents of the three-month-old baby were being investigated by the Family Violence and Child Protection Unit, however, the baby had been released back into the parents’ custody until the investigation was concluded.

He added that the parents from Friday’s Liberty Midlands Mall incident had appeared in court earlier this week with the case adjourned to August 20.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  child abuse
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