WHILST baby dumping is regarded as a serious murder offence in the Namibian books of laws, this trend and practice has continued to give some law enforcement agents a headache because some of these perpetrators are not being arrested and remain Scot free.
As the police seek help from members of the public to trace the mothers of dumped babies, it has been discovered that the public is not forthcoming for one reason or the other. For instance, last month, a healthy baby was found wrapped and dumped in a government garage in the Ngweze township.
In this case, people knew the mother but did not to assist the police in their investigations. The Ministry of Health’s officials confirmed that baby dumping is a serious and a criminal offence and a case compared to as murder which warrants a long jail sentence, these cases have always been received without some seriousness from both the police and members of the pubic at large. They have been treated with secrecy in certain societies.
As in the latest case now with the police in Katima Mulilo, CR 36/05/2010, the mother of the baby is believed to be 19. She is suspected to be currently staying with her mother since her father passed away some years ago. It is suspected that local residents in Katima Mulilo townships know the mother of the dumped baby. The dumped baby was found to be in good health and was christened the name “Baby Nsala” by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi during his surprised visit to the hospital some time in late May. But still local police officers have no clue to that effect and no one is willing to furnish them with this important information.
“In this case, it is reportedly that the mother gave some false information to the hospital officials and in really terms how can a hospital as large a Katima Mulilo fails to know that the mother is near expectation. The public guess that Ministry of Health officials would be in a better position to know when mothers are expected to deliver. This is easily noticed as this is done,” a mother explained in Ngweze town.
In a report complied by the Legal Assistance Center in Windhoek, it says baby dumping and infanticide is common in Namibia and very difficult to estimate its magnitude as many cases go unreported.
In an exclusive interview with the Caprivi Vision, Sergeant Eunike Ndeyamo of the Women and Child Protection Unit in Katima Mulilo confirmed that as long as the public do not come to report the cases, then the onus of the proof will lie with the same communities.
“We are always busy with many issues here such as domestic and violence against women including baby dumping and abortion cases as you can see there are many women coming to report such cases. So far with regards to baby dumping, it is the only case we have received this year but last year we had many cases which I can not divulge which included those which went unreported,” she explained.
However, with regards to the common age of ladies dumping babies, she explained that all ladies of different ages can commit such crimes but mainly it was common in ages ranging from 15 -23 years old.
Seargent Ndeyamo also explained that they are also working with UNICEF and other ministries to disseminate information through various campaigns.
“Pamphlets have been prepared for the campaign and we are ready to go through out the region in order to educate the mothers and young girls about the dangers of unnecessary pregnancy. UNICEF have helped us with some funds and will be going to villages for our campaigns,” she explained.
She explained that the challenges being faced by the police was that of information that will lead to the arrest of these mothers because the public is not forthcoming with such information. It is also suspected that the 19 year old girl who dumped a baby is still on the run.