This is according to the owner of Baby Walls in Sunnyside, near the spot where Lebogang Botolo, 35, allegedly abandoned her then 3-week-old baby girl in January.
The baby was left in a handbag on the side of the road on Jorissen Street.
Police are on the trail of Botolo.
Baby Walls has beautiful walls with the words, “There’s always hope and a new beginning”, painted on them. Within the wall, a trap door reveals a small mattress covered in a blanket.
Two of these walls offer mothers the opportunity to leave their children free from abuse, judgment and harassment.
Owner Tahiyya Hassim said often, no one understood the reasons why women left their children. However, in the centres they ran, they offered mothers the counselling and assurance they needed.
“Even in hospitals, we find that mothers are forced to leave with the babies, only to dump them in bins just outside.
“We’ve had other scenarios where we sent the baby back to the mother and referred her to social workers. But within days, we received a call from the police about an abandoned baby and it was that very baby we had sent back.”
Situations like these, Hassim said, often landed the mothers in trouble with the law. Hassim said the system was failing the mothers by forcing them to keep their children and simply offering them a grant.
She said they often found children being brought in as toddlers, malnourished and abused or neglected.
“It is as if adoptions are being opposed.
“Society needs to leave its prejudice aside and focus on giving mothers options and educating communities.” Hassim said they were also told by some mothers that they were intimidated by clinic sisters, who threatened to report them if they wanted contraceptives.
She said that was illegal.
The young women then, in fear, left only to fall pregnant, left their communities to give birth and came back with some story.
“We have mothers coming from as far as Mpumalanga to hand in their babies in. Other times we have a situation where a woman is forced to keep a child conceived through some form of sexual assault.”
Hassim pleaded with stakeholders to prioritise educational programmes for communities and start giving the mothers and the babies a better chance at a future – or risk seeing the number of abandoned babies growing.