El-Shammah Home For Abandoned Babies

A place of safety for vulnerable babies

Why Women Abandon Their Babies

374 - that is the number of newborn babies abandoned in Gauteng hospitals over the past three years. That means on average 11 babies were left at these hospitals every month.

 147 babies were abandoned in Gauteng hospitals in 2013, followed by 124 abandoned babies in 2014 and 108 babies from January to September 2015.

The worst affected hospital was Leratong Hospital where 100 babies were abandoned. Other hard-hit hospitals include:

- 47 babies at Far East Rand Hospital;
- 30 babies at Chris Hani Baragwanath;
- 25 babies at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg;
- 19 babies at Tembisa Hospital;
- 17 babies each at Rahima Moosa, Mamelodi and Bheki Mlangeni hospitals; and
- 11 babies each at Tshwane District and Thelle Mogoerane hospitals.


Babies were left at hospitals for a variety of reasons. These include teenage pregnancy and unwanted pregnancy, lack of family support, financial constraints due to unemployment, children deserted by fathers, fear of parents and resentment.

These factors resonated with a study released in 2014 by Dee Blackie, who is a consultant to the National Adoption Coalition of SA. The report indicated that the key contributing factors for abandoning children were poverty, the breakdown of traditional kinship support systems due to HIV/Aids and urbanisation, rape and statutory rape.

"Women who choose to abandon their children find often find themselves in desperate situations, many have been abandoned themselves by the father of their child and by their families (on discovery of their pregnancy)," stated the report.

It further highlighted other influencers such as culture, anti-adoption practices by government and legislation governing who can place a child for adoption.

 Child Welfare SA estimated that more than 3 500 babies were abandoned in SA in 2010.