Babies behind bars


Imprisoned mothers face the sad reality of letting their children go at the tender age of two.

A woman that gets arrested while being pregnant in the past used to spend 5 years with her child in jail after giving birth. But since 2011 its been shortened to 2 years due to studies that showed it leaves a negative impact on the child’s social growth.

Imprisoned mothers like Razaana Botha have been sentenced to 3 years in prison, she takes us through the night she gave birth, “ Even though I was in labour, I was still in handcuffs, it was not easy to move around and had a Cesarean section, it scares me to know i will have to part from my baby girl, I wont know if she’s safe, has eaten properly and will miss the growing steps.”

One mother known as Susan N (pseudo name), “It feels like my son is carrying my sentence with me, I’m not gonna be ready to send him out, I hope his not going to blame me, but hope God will give me the right answers, there is no right answer, what happened, happened.”

A mother appoints a family member who will take care of the child. The child will then be in the mercy of the government welfare system, one visit during the week is allowed. This impacts the child’s emotional well being as it is not an easy task.

Hlengiwe Zibani supervisor of social workers said, “It is never easy for any mother to be separated from their child.”

“Counseling specialists however do have a way to determine a child’s emotional status, a medium intervention through playing can articulate the innermost feelings of the child, showing which part is dominant, without having to ask them questions, they can pick up the child’s emotional status and underlying issues they dealing with.” said Shaheda Omar, The Director of Teddy Bear Clinic