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'Persecuting woman who safely left newborn may trigger more unsafe baby dumping'

7 July 2017 3:08 PM
Without any havens to safely leave abandoned babies, troubled mothers may end up dumping babies in dustbins, an activist explains.

Desperate women with nowhere else to turn need a safe option to leave their newborn babies, says Helderberg Baby Saver's Sandy Immelman.

The Helderberg Baby Saver is a safe place to leave an abandoned baby based in the Western Cape, Somerset West.

Read: The harsh realities that can lead to abandoning babies

Immelman has warned that authorities may trigger more unsafe child abandonment if they take criminal action against the woman who left a newborn at a child care centre in Goodwood.

A photo of the woman leaving the baby at Ubuntu House gates has been circulated online and Cape Town police have appealed for help in tracing her whereabouts.

If they arrest her, that would send out a massively bad message to the community. That will lead to more unsafe abandonment.

Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver

Also read: Abandoned babies are a growing concern in SA

In South Africa, child abandonment is criminalised and safe havens are illegal - something Immelman hopes will change.

Without safe haven such as theirs, she says that troubled mothers may end up dumping babies in terrible conditions, such as dustbins.

We hope that mothers would be aware that they can come safely to the Helderberg Baby Saver. There are no cameras.

Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver

Baby Savers are not legal and we are hoping this will change so that desperate women can leave a baby at a hospital, clinic or police station without being persecuted or prosecuted.

Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver

My Baby Saver is not legal, I can't stand by and watch somebody, with no other option, leave a baby in a dustbin.

Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver

An unsafe abandonment would be in a rubbish dump or down a toilet, whereas an safe abandonment would be taking it to a place of safety.

Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver

The Baby Saver is a place for mothers to safely and anonymously leave a baby, if they are unable to care for him/her.

It is an intervention that works to help abandoned babies in conjunction with the healthcare professionals and social services.

For more information, visit the Baby Saver website.

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7 July 2017 3:08 PM