POLOKWANE – Yet another newborn baby was rescued from a pit toilet by the swift and heroic actions of the Mankweng and Polokwane Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
Polokwane EMS Acting Provincial Rescue Coordinator, Robby Masubelele, said he received a call from the control room with one of the Mankweng EMS emergency units informing him about the situation.
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“They asked me to help rescue the baby after the mother dumped her believing she had a miscarriage and thought the baby was dead. It took me about 18 minutes to get to Mankweng from Polokwane,” Masubelele said.
He added the mother of the baby thought the baby was dead so she wrapped her in blankets and dumped her in a pit toilet.
“When the mother explained to her family she just had a miscarriage, they asked her where the baby was and that is when she told them she threw the baby in the pit toilet. The family discovered the baby in the pit toilet and notified the control room immediately,” he said.
Masubelele explained that upon his arrival he tied a rope around his hips which would allow him to go down into the pit toilet to save the baby.
The rescue team, including the police, dug a hole on the side of the pit toilet to gain access to where the baby was. “While digging a hole for me to fit in, we made sure the baby was not harmed in any way by the digging,” Masubelele added.
The Department of Health Spokesperson, Thabiso Teffo, said this recent spate of newborn babies being dumped was of big concern and he urged families to keep a close eye on expectant mothers as some of them might develop depression during pregnancy or get postpartum depression.
“It all starts with the mother. They must ask themselves if they want a pregnancy or not. If not, then they should consider all means of prevention,” Teffo said. He further explained that if mothers don’t want to keep the baby, going to illegal doctors to proceed with an abortion is not the solution.
“Although we don’t promote abortions, we advise mothers to undergo abortions at any public hospital, free of charge instead of paying a lot of money to get a risky abortion at an illegal abortion clinic,” Teffo said.
He further explained postpartum depression can happen to any woman and the risk is even higher for women who are also dealing with poverty, and can be twice as high for teen parents. He said 10% of women experience depression during pregnancy, and perinatal depression is the most common complication of childbirth.
The Department of Health once again congratulated and applauded the EMS rescue team and the police for their hard work. “All of them might be professionally trained to attend to such emergency incidents, but can we at least save them the trauma and not make these kinds of incidents a trend?” Teffo asked.
With regard to mothers who are mentally challenged, Teffo urged the families of these women to approach the Department of Social Development sections at hospitals or healthcare facilities with their problems and they will assist them further.
Department of Social Development Spokesperson, Joel Seabi, said if a parent does not want to keep a child, they should speak to social workers and indicate the ‘burden’ they find themselves in. He added the social workers will advise the people seeking assistance about what they can do to remedy their situation.
“There are two options – foster care; which is temporary and is reviewed every two years, and adoption; which is a long term. We condemn the acts of dumping babies in pit toilets, it is inhumane and must come to a stop. Government has various ways to assist struggling mothers,” Seabi said.
Provincial Police Spokesperson, Col Moatshe Ngoepe, said in these kinds of incidents, if the baby is still alive, the mother will be charged with attempted murder.
“If the baby died as a result of the mother’s actions, the mother will be charged with murder, and if it’s a stillborn, a case of concealment of birth will be investigated,” Ngoepe added.
After the baby’s umbilical cord and placenta were removed, the mother and the baby were taken to Mankweng Hospital for medical assistance. They were accompanied by the baby’s father.