CASES of child abandonment in South Africa are on a dramatic rise, this according to Statistics South Africa. According to reports, there are around 3 500 children abandoned in South Africa every year.
An incident which took place in Durban recently, where a child was abandoned by its mother at the back of a scrapyard, sparked concern by the local community and child rights organisations.
According to police reports, a community member witnessed the mother abandoning her two-week-old baby at the scrapyard. The mother of the child was arrested the baby was rescued.
Speaking to the Fever, CEO for Vukukhanye Community Upliftment Initiatives, an NPO with the aim of supporting and caring for vulnerable children and families as well as orphans, Anthony van der Meulen said the recent statistics suggest that the abandonment of babies is still prevalent and possibly increasing in South Africa.
“The reasons are varied and complex and include teenage or pupil pregnancy, a lack of family and community support, alcohol and substance abuse, HIV and Aids, gender inequality [men abandoning their responsibility and the mother feeling abandoned and helpless] and cultural or personal beliefs that placing your child up for adoption is to be frowned upon,” he explained.
He further said that abandonment may be a desperate effort by the mother to place the child in a position where he or she has a better chance of being properly cared for.
Van der Meulen said that, in the past month, there was also a one-month old baby which was found abandoned in a toilet in a Durban.
“We are appealing to women who feel helpless and desperate to seek support because there are facilities and organisations that have their best interests at heart and are there to help,” he said.
SA Community Crime Watch founder Steven King said abandonment of children is indeed a huge problem in South.
He said that the most contributing factor in the issue of abandoning children is the socio-economic circumstances of the individual.
“People, especially youngsters, don’t have the means to look after a new born baby. The youth need to be educated at school that having unwanted pregnancy comes with responsibilities.
“Further, mothers need to be aware that, even though they may not be able to afford to raise the child, there are institutions that can assist and who can offer the child a life it deserves,” he explained.
Hillcrest SAPS communications officer Captain Linzi Smith warned mother’s that, if they abandoned their children, they will