Non-governmental organisations have a responsibility to report any at-risk or abandoned children to the authorities, so that they can get the help they need.
The Department of Social Development has appealed to people and organisations that work closely with children to report all cases of child abuse, neglect, abandonment and exploitation.
Children may be at an increased risk of abuse and abandonment during the coronavirus lockdown as some parents and caregivers are struggling to find the means to meet their family’s basic needs.
The department says cases must be reported to a designated child protection organisation, the provincial department of social development, local social worker or a police official, as mandated by Section 110 of the Children’s Act (Act No 38 of 2005).
This will ensure that, if warranted, the details of vulnerable children are recorded in Part A of the Child Protection Register and receive the help they need.
The Act further states that the Department of Social Development must assess and further manage the situation in the best interests of the child.
In the case of an abandoned child, a social worker must gather all necessary information and affidavit/s from the person/s who found or reported the child as abandoned and report the case to the police for investigation.
The department explains that matters relating to child and spousal maintenance proceedings; child abuse, neglect and exploitation – including child abandonment; foster care applications and hearings; international child abduction cases and adoptions and hearings are prioritised.
What to do if you cannot care for your baby
A pregnant mother who wants to discuss the possibility of putting her baby up for adoption should contact their area social worker or the nearest Department of Social Development office.
Despite adoption services being readily available, the abandonment of infants in South Africa is unfortunately a common occurrence. It is for this reason that organisations such as Door of Hope Children’s Mission in Johannesburg, Shepherd’s Keep in Durban and Ubuntu House in Cape Town exist. They offer a safe drop-off point for unwanted babies.
For more information, call Door of Hope at 082 783 3374, Shepherd’s Keep at 031 466 1045 or 084 581 2453 or Ubuntu House at 021 592 0610.