1 February 2013

Namibia: Starved Child in Hospital, Pregnant Mother Not Yet Arrested

THE mother who allegedly tied her son to a pole in Opuwo and left him there without food for more than three weeks has not yet been arrested. She is almost nine months pregnant and is in hospital with her son.

It was reported this week that she had tied her nine-year-old child to a pole at the Opuwo Open Market for three weeks. The boy's name cannot be published because he is a minor.

Nampol's Kunene regional commander, Commissioner Mandume Sifonono, said the woman had apparently tied the boy to the pole because he kept "disappearing".

Saxon Tjituri, a social worker at the Kunene regional office for the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, said they were still "dealing with the mother" and couldn't reveal much because investigations were continuing. "I do not have an opinion right now on the matter as I am not finished with my investigation," he said.

He told The Namibian that the child is mentally challenged and for this reason has not received any formal education.

The unemployed mother has been receiving a monthly N$200 social grant, with which she allegedly used to buy alcohol. She allegedly only fed her son small portions of pap, The Namibian was informed by the police earlier this week.

Tjituri said several mothers had appealed to the ministry to increase the grant, but this cannot be done overnight. "The ministry has strategic plans in place to increase these these grants, things do not just happen so quickly," he said.

Asked what measures the ministry can put in place to assist the child, Tjituri said: "We can remove the child permanently from the parent, that is all that we can do after the investigation." He did not want to reveal more about what actions would be taken against the mother.

Commmisioner Shifomono said the mother cannot be arrested yet, as she is still in hospital taking care of the boy.

It was reported earlier that a case of child neglect and child abuse would be opened against the woman. She might also be charged with misusing social grant money.

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