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Six months, at most, for Durban mom who dumped baby in stormwater drain

Emergency workers worked furiously for hours to rescue a new-born baby after a resident heard cries from a stormwater drain. Her mom was sentenced on Friday.
Emergency workers worked furiously for hours to rescue a new-born baby after a resident heard cries from a stormwater drain. Her mom was sentenced on Friday.
Image: Jackie Clausen

The Newlands mother who dumped her newborn baby in a stormwater drain in February last year will serve, at most, six months in prison.

The 33-year-old  mom, who has never been named to protect the identity of her two older children, was sentenced in the Ntuzuma court on Friday to three years in jail, in terms of legislation which permits the sentence to be converted to house arrest after a few months.

Earlier this year she pleaded guilty to attempting to murder her newborn daughter.

She described how she had been ashamed to fall pregnant, having already had two children with two different fathers. She concealed the pregnancy and gave birth alone in a dark passageway of the block of flats where she lived.

“I became emotionally overwhelmed by a feeling of abandonment and desperation. I sat on my own for almost an hour,” she said before deciding to find a “suitable place where I could take my baby where she would hopefully be discovered and my pregnancy would go undetected”.

She first went to a school and a church but could not gain access to either premises. She said she then “stopped thinking logically” and wrapped the baby in a plastic packet and placed her on a concrete ledge inside the storm water drain.

She was later part of a large crowd of people who gathered to witness a four-hour rescue of the baby.

The mother went to Addington Hospital several times in the hope of hearing news of how the baby was doing. The next weekend she confessed to her uncle, a police officer, that she was the mother of “baby storm”.

Ntuzuma magistrate Erenskia la Grange took cognisance of submissions made by the woman's attorney Jacques Botha that his client was a “desperate person” — and not a criminal who needed to be removed from society for a long time.

Botha conceded that the survival of the child was extremely fortuitous and there were other lawful options available to her at the time, but said his client had expressed remorse and had not wasted the court’s time.

He said her two older children would also suffer if she went to jail for a long time. He pointed to the fact that she had prenatal and postnatal depression during her pregnancy and at the time of the birth “which substantially reduces her moral blameworthiness”.

“She does not represent a danger to society. And she is unlikely to ever repeat the offence,” he said.

Since her arrest she has been granted supervised visits with the baby, who is in care.

Botha told TimesLIVE that the visits had stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic but would hopefully resume once she had served her time.


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