Women’s death-threat terror after fake news claims they dumped baby
They fear for their lives after being falsely accused in a viral Facebook post
A Durban mother and her daughter fear for their lives after somebody posted their pictures on social media, accusing them of being responsible for dumping a newborn down a stormwater drain.
The two have received death threats, with some people calling for them to be hanged, after news that they had been arrested went viral.
On Monday morning a team of emergency workers embarked on a nerve-wracking, four-hour rescue of an infant whose crying had been heard by a resident in Newlands East, outside Durban.
The resident, Iyron Lovedale, at first thought it was a “kitty cat” but something nagged him to investigate further.
His instincts proved correct when he discovered the baby girl in the stormwater drain.
As the news spread, dozens of onlookers, mainly residents, gathered around the team comprising search-and-rescue staff, construction experts, paramedics, engineers, firemen and the police, as they devised a plan to the reach the baby.
A 2m trench was dug using an earth mover and once the walls of the trench were shored, the drain was broken open to remove the child. There were cheers and jubilation as the onlookers saw the baby’s thick crop of hair and heard her cries. But their jubilation soon turned to anger against the person who had dumped the cherub-cheeked infant, who was still attached to her placenta.
And for some reason, someone decided to target a 47-year-old woman and her 22-year-old daughter who has a five-year-old daughter.
The woman, who was among those who had gathered anxiously around the cordoned off area where the rescue team worked, said she couldn’t believe it when a friend forwarded her the post from social media two days later.
“I was angry [when she first saw the picture]. I didn’t understand why someone would do such a horrible thing,” she said.
The woman, who can’t be named to protect her safety, said she and her 22-year-old daughter had received death threats after the incident. “This has been especially hard on my daughter; she received threats with people saying we must be hanged.”
On the day their pictures started doing the rounds on social media, her daughter needed to be escorted home from work by police.
“We were afraid because we heard that people had started looking for her at the taxi ranks, and that it would be unsafe for her,” she said.
The 47-year-old said she believed the only reason they were targeted was because they lived in the vicinity of spot where the baby was found.
She added that her daughter wasn’t pregnant and that despite the negativity on social media friends and family had been quick to leap to their defence.
“Our friends and family have been very supportive on social media because they know we are not those kinds of people and that we would never do that.”
They had reported the matter to the police and opened a case of crimen injuria. She added that strong action should be taken against the person who made the post on social media.
Police slammed reports and posts that two people had been arrested for spreading the false news.
The woman said their lives had been put at risk by some random person.
One Facebook user who had shared the post about the arrests in connection with the baby, changed the post after being called out for sharing fake news.
“I just shared your information (about the post being fake) on my post … Thanks for the info that it is untrue. Started hating people I don’t know,” wrote Rae Nassiep.
A Newlands East community safety group also warned residents to stop sharing the post.
“We urge the community to stop circulating these pictures with false accusations,” the post reads.
Meanwhile, the baby, who has been unofficially named Sibanisethu (our light) by residents in the neighbourhood where she was found, is doing well at Durban’s Addington Hospital.
After she is discharged she will be taken to a place of safety.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed that two cases had been opened and were under investigation.