MEC Patricia De Lille's Challenge to Fathers after Baby Dumpings
Minister Patricia de Lille has this morning challenged neglectful fathers in the Western Cape 'to restore their dignity by taking responsibility for their children.'
The Minister's comments come after a newborn baby was extracted alive from a manhole in Killarney Gardens over the weekend by Desmond Mutengo, a 24 year old truck driver. It is estimated that from the beginning of the year around 500 babies have been dumped by Cape Town mothers.
'It is a dramatic thing for a woman to abandon her child, desperation, or simply a lack of capacity to look after the child, are amongst the possible reasons,' says Minister De Lille.
'This woman probably went through 8 or 9 months of painful deliberation over what she was going to do about her baby. But what I find most worrying is that in all of the debates and discussions around the recent incident where a woman dumped her baby, there has been hardly a single mention of the child's father,' De Lille says.
'Does this child have a father? Why is it that as a society we do not even consider this fundamental question? I hope it is not because we expect nothing from fathers.'
'We urgently need to do something about the societal attitude of men towards fatherhood. We must begin to empower men to take responsibility. Each time a woman abandons her child we must ask the question, have they already been abandoned themselves by the father of that child?'
'However, we must also start to own up to the fact that when a woman dumps her baby, not only has the father failed his responsibilities, his family, the mother's family, the services in the local community and the community as a whole have all also failed' says De Lille.
'Children are precious, they are a gift from God, please do not dump your baby. Instead you can call the Department of Social Development on our toll free number, 0800 220 250 and we will refer you to the appropriate organisation that can help you make the right decisions.
'The Department works on the principle, which is informed by the Children's Act that if a woman is given the kind of support that empowers her to make the right decisions, then there will be no reason for her to dump her baby,' De Lille says.
The Minister added that the Department needs to do more to make women 'aware of the support that is available to help them bring the child up themselves, or give the child up for adoption.'
'The Western Cape currently has a total of 36 registered Child and Youth care Centres, where children with a variety of care-needs can be accommodated. We must also remember that abandoned babies usually have parents, so they are not orphans,' the Minister says.
Very few of the 36 Child and Youth care Centres are always filled to capacity.
Cell: 084 233 3811