After a stranger talked her out of suicide, she went to the Sophiatown Police Station to hand herself over.
In a story of absolute desperation, a mother who tried to ‘safely abandon’ her baby girl in a veld in Roosevelt Park, Randburg, has spoken exclusively to the Northcliff Melville Times about her trauma, the events leading up to the abandonment and how she ended up handing herself over to police.
The newborn baby girl was found abandoned in the veld, on October 8. The mother is currently in custody, facing a charge of child abandonment.
Here is her story:
Hours after an agonising and terrifying birth, alone in the middle of the night in her domestic worker accommodation, the 19-year-old mother, who wished to stay anonymous, decided to give her baby what she thought was a better life.
She describes being in a state of total and absolute panic with emotions completely overwhelming her.
She says she had no idea that organisations that advocate for and provide safe, anonymous baby relinquishment options for women with crisis pregnancies, existed, nor that she could approach these organisations for the support she needed.
She carefully wrapped her baby in one of her tops, a towel, and a jacket, and put these on a black bag, placed on the ground underneath to protect her precious bundle from any dust.
“After breastfeeding my child, I went to Roosevelt Park, and when nobody was looking, I put her down. It was terrible, so terrible to leave her.”
Faith, still recovering from the painful birth, says she pretended she was a pedestrian who discovered the infant and called for help to make sure someone came and helped her daughter.
“A man called his security company. They arrived and called an ambulance that took the baby to a nearby hospital to check.”
SCP Security’s, Clive Maher says, “We dispatched a senior member to the scene where a newly born infant was discovered, wrapped in a black bag. We immediately called emergency services who treated the baby for dehydration. We were told on the scene that if the baby had been left for one more hour, she would have died.”
Faith says she was surprised to learn that her baby was so dehydrated because she had breastfed her daughter several times in the hours before.
“I did what I felt was best for my baby because I had nothing to offer her. I have not slept properly since then.”
According to her, the father of the child, now an ex-boyfriend, initially said that he wanted to help with the baby but began to cut ties after his new girlfriend discovered she was pregnant too.
Faith explained through sobs how he did not come on the night she was in labour, despite her having told him. He stopped taking her desperate calls for his help in the middle of the night. She was completely alone.
He had originally said the baby could go to his mother’s place during the day to enable Faith to continue working. She had concealed the pregnancy from her new employers because she did not want to jeopardise her new job, after only securing it three-weeks before she gave birth.
She realised the father could not be relied on and felt she had nothing to offer her beautiful baby girl, forcing her into thinking that relinquishing her baby was the only way to give her a better life with a loving family.
The pain of being apart from her baby was so overwhelming the mother says she went to a busy intersection with the intention of walking in front of a truck and ending her life.
“A stranger saw me crying and told me that suicide was not the only option, and I must try to survive.”
It was at this point that she went to the Sophiatown Police Station to hand herself in, knowing she must accept whatever consequences the rule of law deems appropriate.
“I want to admit everything I have done and own my actions. I do not want to hide what I have done, this terrible thing. But I want to know my baby is okay and I love her. I hope there is a way we can be together.”
Since giving birth, she has reconnected with an aunt who lives in an informal settlement in Johannesburg and who had not seen her since she was a small child.
“I am doing my best to support my niece and we understand the court must do its work. It’s tough because of what she has done, but we all love the baby even though we have not met her,” the aunt says.
Sophiatown police member and head of the Social Crime Prevention desk, Sergeant Masana Rikhotso had the privilege of naming the baby when it was discharged from hospital.
She named her, Masana, her first name which means ‘the warmth of the sun on a winter’s morning’. The paper has spoken with one of the women caring for the infant at a place of safety who says she is ‘doing very well’.
Faith’s mother and grandmother live in Zimbabwe but have not played a positive role in her life – which was the catalyst for her coming to South Africa in the hopes of making a better life for herself.
The mother says she hopes by telling her story she might help other women with a crisis pregnancy.
The state has taken a DNA swab to confirm that she is in fact the mother, and she remains in custody until her next court appearance. She has been charged with child abandonment.