Help pours in for little Shiluva Sibiya

Riot Hlatshwayo and Victor Hlungwani

Help is pouring in for the two- month-old baby whose father allegedly ran away after discovering she was born without arms.

A hospital in Mpumalanga was also not helpful, allegedly because her Shangaan mother, Vutlhari Mahlale, cannot speak siSwati.

After Sowetan published the child's story last week, the chairman of the Limpopo First Lady Charity Trust Fund, Tom Boya, organised help for baby Shiluva Sibiya of Shihosani village near Malamulele.

Ramokone Moloto, a patron of the fund and wife of Limpopo premier, Sello Moloto, also promised to contact people who could help financially in the upbringing of the child.

Moloto said: "The trust fund does not have a budget for the baby but there is no way we can fold our hands and just look at the poor baby. Something has to be done and I'm speaking to the business community to help the girl financially since we depend on donors."

Boya said the trust fund was dealing with vulnerable children from poor families in the province and had so far given Mahlale R500 to help her travel to Witbank Hospital in Mpumalanga for the child's medical check-ups.

Betty Kennedy, the owner of Myngenoegen English Preparatory School in Dalmada in Polokwane, wants to give the unemployed Mahlale a job.

Kennedy told Sowetan yesterday: "She can come up any time and will be employed while she continues caring for her baby."

Shiluva was born at Tonga Hospital in the deep rural Tonga region near Komatipoort where, according to her mother, authorities refused to transfer the baby to Witbank Hospital for more sophisticated medical attention.

"They told me I could not be transferred because of my inability to speak in siSwati," said Mahlale.

But the provincial department of health and social services denied the allegations, saying Tonga Hospital dealt mostly with Shangaan-speaking people because of the influx of people from Mozambique.

"Transport had already been arranged for the mother and child, meaning assistance had been given to her.

"The department rejects the allegations as they are baseless," said the department's spokesman, Mpho Gabashane, yesterday.