Baby dies after being assaulted by mother

Children of Emseni Children’s Home, advocate for rights of children, by taking to the streets and making the public aware of their rights. Seen with them are Sagree Naicker, (left) manager of Child Welfare, Port Shepstone and Lindiwe Msomi from the home.

THE death of a child is a traumatic event that can have long-term effects on the lives of parents, siblings and the community at large.

A shocking report on the death of a seven-month-old baby in Gcilima, near Southbroom has brought much concern to local Child Welfare organisations as cases have escalated.

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The baby boy had been severely abused and died in hospital. His 16-year-old mother is now behind bars for the alleged murder.

On Monday this week the 22-year-old father and the mother were arrested for his murder. Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Michelle van Niekerk of the Margate SAPS Detective Service, decided to release the father from police custody as there was insufficient evidence against him. The mother has been charged and appeared in the Ramsgate Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Wednesday). The case was postponed to June 21 and she remains in police custody.

The assault

“It is alleged that, last Friday at around 6pm, the couple, who do not live together, had been quarrelling over the baby,” said police spokesman, Captain Gerald Mfeka.

“The mother brought the baby and left him with the father. While the father was bathing him, a visiting relative noticed bruises on the baby’s face and body,” said Capt Mfeka.

The relative accompanied the father to the local clinic for medical attention for the child. They were then referred to Murchison Hospital where it was established that the infant had sustained broken legs, arms and ribs.

He succumbed to his injuries and died in hospital on Monday this week. A post-mortem will be conducted to establish the cause of death.

Work load increases at child welfare

Following the assault and death of the baby, Child Welfare South Africa, Port Shepstone, as well as other child welfare organisations across the country, have been concentrating on child protection in various communities, commemorating Child Protection Week in the month of May and June.

Sagree Naicker, manager of Child Welfare, Port Shepstone, said they have seen an escalation of reported cases to their office. “Cases of abuse, neglect, orphans and abandoned children have increased in the past year.

What are we, as a community, doing about this? Should children be fighting their own rights? Or should we adults be protecting the rights of children?” asked Ms Naicker.

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During Child Protection Week, Child Welfare has been to nine schools within the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality. They have reached over 700 children in grade 7.

Social workers have been advocating for no violence against children, say ‘no’ to abuse and speaking on how children can be kept safe. They have also created awareness in many communities on child abuse, but despite the efforts to create this awareness, child abuse in its various forms has not stopped.

It has come to light that Child Welfare, Port Shepstone, social workers each have over 200 cases on their caseloads. “We are understaffed due to insufficient funding and therefore utilise the services of volunteers.

Some of the volunteers are qualified in their field of service. However, we cannot pay them their due,” said Ms Naicker.

Ms Naicker highlighted that cases are not receiving the attention they deserve due to the lack of time. “Cases at the weekend cannot be attended to as there is no one to be on duty after hours,” she said.

Communities must be aware that the various role players whom they can contact for assistance are as follows: Child Welfare SA, Port Shepstone and Margate; Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS), SAPS; Child Line; Life Line; Port Shepstone Regional Hospital and Give a Child a Family.

It is mandatory to report abuse to a child in any form. According to Section 110 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005: “Any person who, on reasonable grounds, believes that a child is in need of care and protection, may report that belief to the provincial department, a designated child protection organisation or police official.”

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  AUTHOR
Sugan Naidoo
Reporter

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