You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by our story this week about two mothers, who were the innocent victims of government medical incompetence when their babies were switched at birth eight years ago.
The women, amazingly, not only know of each other, they get together twice a month, so each can see their “real” child being raised by someone else.
This is because, in its infinite wisdom, the Child Court hearing the case four years ago decided it would be best for the children if they continued to be brought up by the mother who brought them home from hospital.
The children can only make a decision about who they want their mother to be when they turn 18.
There is hope that the tragic story might one day have a happy ending because the children have got to know each other and could one day become almost real siblings.
But that little ray of light does little to change the fact that this avoidable tragedy is yet another example of how government – in this case, the Gauteng department of health – yet again abuses the most vulnerable people in society: young black mothers.
One of the women was told by uncaring hospital staff that she was “mad” when they gave her a boy, but she remembers giving birth to a girl.
When the mothers brought in a lawyer to fight their case for compensation, government admitted liability and earlier this year promised a “down payment” of R100 000.
No one will be surprised to hear that even that token amount has not been paid. Nobody knows where the problem lies.
People, no matter their social status, do not deserve to be treated like this.