Baby safe offers hope to Witbank mothers with unwanted children

04 October 2019 - 09:26 By Naledi Shange
The baby safe outside the New Life Church in Witbank is ready to receive infants.
The baby safe outside the New Life Church in Witbank is ready to receive infants.
Image: Supplied / Maureen Scheepers

A black safe placed in the wall of the New Life Church may be the solution to saving the lives of unwanted babies in Witbank, Mpumalanga.

The safe, on Mandela Drive, contains a white mattress and a soft toy and is the first of its kind to be unveiled in the area.

The newly launched baby safe box outside the New Life Church in Witbank.
The newly launched baby safe box outside the New Life Church in Witbank.
Image: Supplied / Maureen Scheepers

After responding to several incidents where newborn babies were found abandoned and dead in Witbank, Maureen Scheepers, a local mother of two, set out on a mission to provide a place where mothers, not wanting their babies, could safely leave them.

Scheepers, who is also the project co-ordinator for the SA Community Crime Watch group, got the project up and running in September.

“There was one incident I responded to in Jellicoe Street where a woman had left her baby in the grass. It seemed like she had given birth and left the child there overnight,” she said.

“The child died from the cold throughout the night.” 

Jellicoe Street is an infamous street where police have repeatedly clamped down on prostitution and drug dealing.

Scheepers hopes to unveil more safety boxes in other areas.

“Our aim is to have a box in the CBD, where at least three babies have been found dumped,” she said.

“We also want one in the Phola area as the social services operating in that area have requested it,” she said.

A woman who wants to leave her baby in the box is able to open it from outside and place the infant on the mattress.

The weight of the baby triggers a system that sends a text message to 10 people who are part of the project, alerting them that something is in the safe.

Once activated, the safe cannot be reopened from outside until the baby is collected on the other side. 

Scheepers said the safe has given her hope that more babies will be saved. 

“Everyone is happy and excited about this project, but it is sad that we need this,” she said. 

“Child abandonment is a crime and yes, a case will be opened each time a child is found, but we would rather these babies end up in a box than in a dump.”


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