Babies dumped on township tip

Mamelodi Dump staff members (from left) Adelade Matia (advisor), Patience Maselela (advisor) and Ladia Ngobemi (secretary) see dead babies in the garbage every week — and they say it has been going on for years.

Christian groups plan baby safe, awareness campaign

Staff at the Mamelodi City Dump say that they find dead babies discarded in the garbage every week and that the problem has been around for years.

Patience Maselela, who has worked at the dump for 20 years and secretary, Ladia Ngobemi, who has been employed there for nine years, say that dump workers typically discover two or more babies every week at the garbage tip in Mamelodi, a township outside Pretoria with an estimated population of close to one million residents. The dead baby count adds up to more than 100 newborn babies a year. This grisly toll excludes babies that could be inside plastic dustbin bags which are not opened by dump workers.

“We’ve always seen this — the whole time we’ve been here. We need help with prevention. When the babies get here, they are always dead,” said Ngobemi.

Help needed
“We always phone the police and they come with the government mortuary. They take information and take the baby,” she said.

Unfortunately, the babies found in the past five years have always been deceased. But there was an occasion, about five years ago, when a worker found a live, newborn baby girl wrapped in a plastic bag that was discarded just outside the dump. Workers immediately called an ambulance to take the baby to the hospital. Against all odds, the girl lived.

“The babies that are found are usually in buckets, old tires, or containers,” said Maselela, who is employed as an adviser at the dump.

The garbage comes from all the dumping areas in Pretoria, but the babies are usually brought in from garbage trucks servicing Mamelodi. When asked if the babies could possibly be late-term abortions discarded by legal abortion clinics, Ngombemi said: “It’s not the abortion people. The women do this on their own and put the baby in there. When you put it in there with no oxygen, obviously it can’t survive.”

ABBA House, a baby shelter in Pretoria, has plans to donate a “baby safe” that will be placed somewhere in Mamelodi East for women to drop off their unwanted babies. Workers from AIDS Hope, a ministry of Operation Mobilisation in Mamelodi, plan to collaborate with these efforts by starting an awareness campaign to teach high school students about alternatives to abortion and abandonment.
For more information, or to make a donation, please email Anne Linke at Operation Mobilisation at

One Comment

  1. When you have a judge like we have are you suprised?