Sun. Nov 17th, 2019

Thousands of infants are abandoned in South Africa every year – report

swing missing child children kidnapIt makes it harder for child protection organisations to play a role with the enactment of the Children’s Amendment Bill looming over their heads.

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A report by Impilo Child Protection and Adoption Services has highlighted a shocking statistic about how thousands of infants are abandoned in South Africa every year.

As worrying as these statistics may be, they only relate to children who have been found alive. Thus, it is unimaginable what the true extent of this crisis is.

How many infants are abandoned in South Africa every year?

According to Impilo, an estimated 3 500 infants are abandoned in the country every year, and their displacement in society is exacerbated by the impending implementation of the Children’s Amendment Bill.

Before Albert Fritz was the Western Cape’s Minister of Community Safety, he headed up the Department of Social Development and led a campaign to have the Bill challenged.

Earlier this year, Fritz led the charge to expose the ramifications of the Bill should it be passed.

Related: Newborn baby rescued from seven-meter storm water drain

Why is the Children’s Amendment Bill controversial?

According to the Western Cape’s minister, the Children’s Amendment Bill will effectively render the services of accredited child protection organisations, adoptive social workers, lawyers and other key players in the sector, irrelevant as they will not be allowed to charge for their services.

This means that the state will absorb the adoption process and oversee the entire ongoings of the sector.

Impilo launches awareness campaign

Impilo, with support from Macsteel — one of Africa’s leading steel manufacturers –, has since launched a campaign to raise awareness around the plight faced by thousands of children who are not offered an opportunity to live healthy and productive lives.

“The organisation is embarking on a new campaign where it has collected 3500 baby-grows to signify the enormity of this issue and to create awareness, increase support and build a dynamic network that will assist some of these children with the opportunity for a full and productive life.”

— Impilo Child Protection and Adoption Services

Related: Concern as two newborn babies found dead in dustbins within 24 hours

The child protection organisation argues that the state, with all of its good intentions, does not have the capacity to attend to the needs of abandoned children.

“The controversial changes were hastily pushed through by the Department of Social Development (DSD) without in-depth consultation with the adoption and child protection sectors and without due consideration of the impact on the vulnerable children the act is intended to protect.”

— Impilo Child Protection and Adoption Services

What will happen now?

Susan Shabangu, the former Minister of Social Development, was tasked with engaging the key stakeholders of this sector on ways the amendments could be restructured to allow for the inclusive efforts of non-profit organisations and other private sector agents.

However, she has since been replaced by Lindiwe Zulu, and the fight to hold the state accountable for the negative impact this Bill poses on abandoned children will be redirected to her desk.

“South Africa desperately needs to ensure that tomorrow’s children are given every opportunity to develop their emotional and intellectual skills and develop into individuals who can play a productive role in growing South Africa’s economy.

“We value the role that Impilo and many other similar organisations are playing and applaud them for their unrelenting commitment to abandoned children,” Kim Allan, Macsteel’s Group Corporate Social Responsibility Manager said.

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