Mother mourns baby's death

30 April 2019 | Crime

Members of the Windhoek City Police are working closely with social workers to ensure the best way forward for the three surviving children and their mother whose three-month old baby died shortly after she and her siblings were found locked up alone in a shack on Friday night.

City Police spokesperson Fabian Amukwelele confirmed yesterday that the mother, who is in her late thirties, has not yet been arrested or charged and is receiving counselling and support from social workers. He said she is grieving the loss of her daughter and is in an emotionally fragile state. “She will be charged. She is mourning the death of the baby. The fact is that she lost a baby. We've decided to take her through a process of counselling. We also have to consider she comes from a background where she struggled severely. So we are first trying to counsel her, talk to her, and to advise her.”

He said she is “not in a good state, she has no appetite and is emotionally and physically drained.”

He said at this stage, the woman needs support and to regain her strength. Her three surviving children, aged one, three and five, remain under observation at the Katutura hospital.

Meanwhile, funeral arrangements are underway for the baby girl who died mere hours after being taken to Katutura hospital on Friday night after she was found wrapped naked in a sheet, showing signs of malnutrition and dehydration.

A doctor who was at the scene, said all the children had all shown symptoms of malnutrition, dehydration and general neglect.

The mother was found shortly afterwards and a breathalyser test revealed a blood-alcohol level at 0.80.

Long-term benefits

Dr Veronica Theron, technical advisor in the Office of the First Lady, yesterday said she understands the public outrage in response to this case, but said from a social worker's perspective, the merits of the case need to be investigated and understood before further action is recommended.

In a case like this, she said, social workers have to “analyse each and every piece of the puzzle. I would consider the best interests of the other minor children involved to prevent further traumatisation. Then I would consider the mental state of the suspect and then we would investigate the factors that might have led to the offence,” she explained.

Theron added that if the presence of the biological mother poses a threat to the surviving children, immediate removal of the children concerned is necessary. She added that further, social workers now have to consider the different options to safeguard the wellbeing of the minor children, such as a place of safety, foster care or institutional care.

She said in a majority of cases where abandonment, neglect or infanticide are involved, “you will see that the mother is also often a victim, of physical, emotional or psychological violence”.

Charlemaine Husselman, programme manager at LifeLine/Childline explained that “offering psycho-social support to the mother provides a platform for her to deal with the grief of losing a child and being removed from her other children amid the socio-economic factors she faces.”

She said the counselling will further help the mother “come to terms with what is happening and to make decisions that is within the best interest of her remaining living children.”

She added that the approach taken police on such a difficult and sensitive case, and their willingness to work closely with social workers, indicates “that change is occurring in a positive way, highlighting the important relationship between the police and social workers.”

She noted that by recognising the difficulties, including financial and other issues, the mother could have faced, is a recognition of the fact “that these types of incidences are not always by choice.”


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