On Monday 17 August, a 19-year-old mother was informed that her 6-month-old baby had died the previous day. This is according to an IOL report, reporting on the subsequent protests sparked by the tragic death of the baby.
The mother is serving a year in Sun City prison in Johannesburg and was seven months pregnant when she was sentenced in December for shoplifting. She gave birth in February 2020 and stayed for a month in Baragwanath due to breastfeeding struggles caused by an infection she had.
She is HIV positive and reports that the hospital gave her daughter medication to ensure she does not get infected. After the birth, she alleges that the prison was no longer offering adequate medical care, food, and water. This resulted in her daughter getting admitted as she survived on sugar and saltwater alone.
She also begged Zanele Mabaso, the prison head, to allow her family to fetch her baby because she could see that she was not well.
“Zanele still refused, saying that it was the hard lockdown, and no one would be allowed to fetch any child,” she said.
She was also not allowed to see her daughter’s body, which fueled the mother’s rage and frustration.
“As mothers of children at Sun City, we are striking because our babies don’t get medication; they don’t have food, clothes, and nappies,” the prison mothers said.
The negligence they are saying to be experiencing from the department of correctional services (DCS) has resulted in violent protests.
DCS spokesperson Logan Maistry confirmed the death of the baby, adding that an investigation has been launched into the baby’s death and the reports of negligence.