OSHAKATI – A baby boy weighing approximately 2.8kg was found abandoned in a pit latrine (toilet) in the village of Omulathitu near Okatana Constituency, police said on Tuesday.
Police Sergeant Tomas Aiyambo says it is believed the two-day old baby had been in the latrine since Monday and residents only discovered him on Tuesday morning.
An unidentified woman recounted that she went to the toilet to answer the call of nature, when she heard the cry of a baby and alerted the police who found the newborn baby.
“It is a miracle that this baby is still alive after spending a night in a smelly pit latrine. We received information that a woman who went to the pit latrine in the mahangu field heard a baby crying this morning at around 8am (Tuesday),” he said.
“The police responded immediately and the traumatised baby was taken to the Oshakati Intermediate Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where he was treated for dehydration and exhaustion,” said Aiyambo.
A case of attempted murder and a case of child neglect has been opened. Authorities are perplexed by the case, because baby dumping is rare in the region. He said police are investigating and trying to find a mother who recently gave birth and urged anyone with information to contact them.
Police have requested medical personnel to report any woman who visits a hospital or health centre seeking medical help for any condition linked to giving birth.
Nursing officer in charge of the ICU Dr Mgori Nuru Kaddu said the newly born baby was taken to the hospital nursery for medical examination and is reported to be in a stable condition, but more tests are being run.
“It is too early to say anything about his health condition. There might be infection at a later stage,” Kaddu said. According to the Oshakati Medical Superintendent, Shannon Kakungulu, baby dumping is very rare in the region. He said so far only two cases have been attended to at the hospital. Kakungulu further called on pregnant mothers to seek assistance as counselling services are offered at the health facility.
Namibian women still consider baby dumping an option after giving birth to unwanted babies, a survey conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare together with the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, and the Legal Assistance Centre has revealed.
Rachel Comer from the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) said they hope that the information collected from the survey is a better reflection of the real situation since they consulted a wider range of people.
According to the survey, the main reason why women dump infants is fathers denying paternity. Other reasons include mothers who are still attending school, and mothers who are unaware of foster care, adoption and institutional care.
Baby dumping has been a problematic trend in Namibia over the years, and while it remains unclear exactly how many newborns are dumped each year, a 2008 LAC report titled Baby Dumping and Infanticide noted that “at Gammams Water Care Works in Windhoek they discover an average of 13 bodies of newborn babies each month amongst the human waste flushed down toilets.”
The report revealed that in 2007 alone, 23 cases of concealment of birth were recorded. But the above statistics only present a hint at what the true baby-dumping picture might be.
Some of the incidents reported in the media in recent times include women throwing newborn babies out with the garbage, leaving them under a bush, burying them inside their own backyards, abandoning them tied up in plastic bags, throwing them down a well or pit latrine, burying them alive in the desert, and the list goes on.