Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Childline Kwazulu-Natal yesterday appealed to young mothers to seek help and not "kill or hurt their babies out of desperation".

The appeal came after Judge Piet Koen, late on Monday in the Pietermaritzburg high court, jailed a 20-year-old pregnant mother who strangled her three-year-old son, for five years with possible correctional supervision by .

Yolanda Radebe of Estcourt, who pleaded guilty to the murder, said that she committed the crime out of a feeling of hopelessness.

She said she was destitute and the child's father refused to help her and she was thrown out of her home by her mother.

She said she had strangled the little boy with her hands, put his body in a plastic bag and disposed of it in a refuse skip.

She could not live with her guilt any more and confessed to a friend who then alerted police.

Radebe said she had become pregnant while at school and after the birth of her son, she returned to school and passed matric.

But, in August last year, she found that she was pregnant again and her mother ordered her out of their house.

She gave birth to twins at a crisis centre in Newcastle and they have since been placed in foster care.

The 10-year jail sentence was conditionally suspended with the court ordering that the correctional services department may change Radebe's jail sentence to correctional supervision after a portion of the sentence is served in jail.

Childline provincial director Linda Naidoo said the increased killing and abandonment of babies happened for different reasons.

"Often children become the bargaining tool in relations. Sometimes a woman see the children as a desperate outlet especially if they have been abandoned by their spouses, lack community support, have been raped, have a negative attitude towards parenting or are living in poverty," she said.

According to Naidoo the situation is grim and it is obligatory for communities, the government and civil society organisations to work together to stem the increase of child deaths by their mothers or parents.

"We need to rekindle the joy that children bring," she said.