SEHLABENG community police hunted down and effected a citizens’ arrest on a 19-year-old mother who abandoned her 18-month-old baby for five days because of the toddler’s disability.
The teenage mother said she was forced to dump the baby at her mother’s place of residence to save her relationship with the father who did not want to have anything to do with a “child with no legs”.
When the Sunday Express visited Sehlabeng last Friday, they found the angry community police waiting for Mabote Police to respond to their call while the child’s mother, Liteboho Bosuhle, lay on the ground drunk.
She explained that as a condition for their continued relationship, the child’s father had instructed her to dump the child at her mother’s house because he did not want a disabled child.
“He told me that at the time the child was amputated she was staying with my mother so I should return the child to her,” Ms Bosuhle said, adding, “So I had no choice but to dump her there to save our relationship”.
The baby, who had both her legs amputated due to an ailment she suffered when she was only two months old, was in a poorly state, having spent five days in the care of her grandmother, ’Matšepiso Bosuhle.
The grandmother explained that while she would love to care for her granddaughter, she lacked the means to ensure the child was provided for especially in view of her physical disability.
The child’s appearance belied her actual age due to malnutrition. Her grandmother said that the health personnel at the Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital had recommended a specialised diet but both parents were unable to support the child.
Ms ’Matšepiso said she arrived home last Monday to find the child alone in her house at Tsoapo-le-bolila.
She had just returned from another village where she had gone to look for odd jobs.
“I waited for my daughter to come back and collect the baby but she did not. The following day I reported the matter at Lithoteng Police Station but they did not take any action,” ’Matšepiso said.
She then sought help from some relatives in Sehlabeng where her daughter sometimes visited. They agreed to involve the community policing committee in the area to search for the missing mother.
After a three-day search, the team found the child’s mother at a friend’s house.
’Matšepiso said she was “heartbroken” as a result of her daughter’s behaviour.
“My daughter has never been an easy child to raise and she dropped out of school while doing Form A. She had a lot of potential in school but the problem was that she got mixed up with the wrong people before she got pregnant and went to stay with the father of her child.
“When they started having challenges with the baby, I tried to help but unfortunately, it was not enough, and my granddaughter ended up losing both her legs.”
Later in the day, Mabote police came and picked up the mother and the baby.
Police Spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said that cases of young mothers who abandoned their babies were rampant in most parts of the country.
“As the police, we take such cases very seriously. We arrest parents who abandon their children and in most convictions, the mothers are given jail sentences and not made to pay a fine,” Supt Mopeli said.