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Police under pressure to arrest father of dumped baby

Written by on April 29, 2024

… authorities say they have no grounds to arrest him

Erongo police spokesperson chief inspector Ileni Shapumba says the police are facing pressure from the community to arrest the father of the baby girl abandoned in the dunes, following her mother’s arrest at Walvis Bay on Saturday.

The police arrested the mother of the one-year-old baby after the child was found by a passerby in the dunes on Saturday morning.

Shapumba says the baby was dressed warmly, covered in a blanket and did not appear to be sick or injured.
The mother (24), who was found selling kapana at a local shebeen at Kuisebmond, allegedly attempted to run away but was detained for further investigation.

She was later arrested and charged under the 2015 Child Care and Protection Act and will appear in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court today.

However, Shapumba says the police are receiving public pressure to arrest of the father of the abandoned child.

“The 27-year old father lives in Omuthiya in the Oshikoto region. We wish to inform the public that before arriving at effecting arrest in this case, we conducted thorough investigation. We are working with our social workers, looking into all circumstances. Until at this stage, we have no grounds in law to arrest the father.”

Shapumba has thanked the community for the “overwhelming support and advice/inputs”.

“While we do so, we call upon the public to always have confidence and to not doubt the police’ credibility and/or professionalism in our ability to discharge the constitutional functions.”

Shapumba says the mother allegedly left her baby exposed to danger and uncared for.

“Without casting any aspersions, this conduct or any similar behaviours can not be condoned. We express our gratitude to the public for their assistance in this case. The baby is currently at a very safe place. We are attending to what needs to be attended to.”

Aspiring presidential candidate and gender activist Rosa Namises says more investigations are needed into the socio-economic, psychological and mental well-being of the mother instead of law enforcement and the courts making a legal decision concerning her.

Namises says for any woman, the decision to dump a baby is one thought about 110 times, as many women bring babies into this world under challenging circumstances, including rape, sexual violence/abuse, transactional sex and being abandoned by boyfriends after they find out about the pregnancy.

“Women go through a lot. Therefore, one has to look at these cases very thoroughly. The man must also be held responsible because it’s the decisions they both took that led to this child being abandoned. Baby dumping usually occurs within the first three to six months.

But look at this mother, the way she dressed her, how carefully she chose the location and that she had cared for her for more than a year… Something must have triggered her.

“Therefore, this can not just be a case handled on a legal basis and a decision on her future be made mainly based on what the act says.”

Namises has urged the government to prioritise women and children by ensuring the creation and operations of safe shelters for them. She also urges women to support one another and says those in affluent positions should lift the weaker ones, as support from men is usually minimal.

Last October, The Namibian reported that none of the eight government-owned gender-based violence shelters across the country are operational due to a staff shortage.

“The Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Child Welfare has a total of eight shelters but their operational status has been hampered by a shortage of staff,” said ministry spokesperson Lukas Haufiku at the time.

This is because at least 32% of Namibian women have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner at some point in their lives, while Namibia recorded close to 700 rape cases with a disproportionate impact on women and girls during 2022.

“I can only tell the mother to be upfront and honest and tell her tale and maybe God can help the courts to make a socially welcome decision. Because to me, punishment, keeping her in jail does not seem the right answer while she could be facing harsh circumstances economically, socially or psychologically, than to just make a decision based on the law,” says Namises.

Meanwhile, Ruach Elohim founder Ronel Peters has reiterated the call for mothers of unwanted babies to seek help without having to expose them to dangerous circumstances.

She advises them to place the babies at a safe place.

“I was really very shocked about the news of the baby. I am eternally thankful for the passerby and that the little girl was found alive and well. It is very sad and shocking that the mother of the baby reverted to such a drastic and dangerous act. Much more education, support and aggressive awareness is needed to curb this problem in our country. Everyone in the community needs to act. Desperate moms need to know there is efficient help available and also where to find this help at any time. Innocent lives are at stake. Every baby needs to live and be loved,” she says.

The foundation was started in 2018 at Swakopmund and offers an alternative to baby dumping through its ‘baby-saver box’ that is built into the boundary wall of the shelter.

The post Police under pressure to arrest father of dumped baby appeared first on The Namibian.

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