The Western Cape MEC for Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, has condemned acts of baby dumping in the strongest sense – wishing to alert the public that ‘dumping’ a baby is a criminal offence.
“We appeal to all expectant mothers who are unable to take care of their babies to seek assistance either at any clinic, or to approach their nearest Department of Social Development (DSD) local office or a Child Designated Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) to speak to a social worker who may be able to assist with information about options suitable to the individual’s circumstances.”
Below are figures indicating the number of abandonment cases:
- April 2019 – March 2020 (47)
- April 2020 – March 2021 (24)
- April 2021 – December 2021 (26) – 3 Quarters
The Department says that not all abandonment cases are necessarily babies who were abandoned (i.e left in a bin or on a field), but also include children who were abandoned by alternate caregivers such as grandparents, foster parents and etc.
Common reasons for children being abandoned as reported by DSD include the following:
- The biological mother not having visible means to care for the baby
- Unemployment or destitution (no fixed abode)
- Missing kinship or non-kinship support system
- Illegal substance abuse
- Having to care for several other children
- Psychological disorders
- Judgement from an individual or community for giving baby up for adoption / alternate care
- Unaware of what to do or what organisations to approach for assistance
One way that members of the public can help is applying to become safety parents. This critical service widens the safety net of protection for abandoned children.
They offer a temporary safe space that can be used as an emergency means by social workers or police officials where they have reasonable grounds to believe that the child is in immediate danger.
“I would like to appeal for people to sign up as safety parents. We have seen an increased need for child protection services. This is a great way for community members to partner with us and be part of protecting our children.”
Interested individuals, who meet the criteria, can apply to become safety parents at any DSD office, where the staff will explain the process and requirements.
Should a person find an abandoned baby, it is advised that they contact SAPS or the DSD immediately.
For more information and supporting NGO’s call:
- Department of Social Development: 0800 220 250
- Gender Based Violence Command Center: 0800 428 428
- SAPS: 10111
- Childline: 116