Sunrise sees another day

Picture:Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

A newborn baby boy was snatched from certain death, when he was found floating in a plastic bag in the ocean at Sunrise Beach.

The dramatic discovery was made early in the morning on Friday November 16 by a Muizenberg woman.

She wants to remain anonymous, saying all she did was respond to the situation, although she can’t say what drove her to wade into the ocean that morning and retrieve that particular plastic bag.

She says, partly, she was motivated by wanting to clean up plastic pollution. But she also said the moment she saw the bag, she just knew it needed to be retrieved: immediately.

“I am a completely practical person. I don’t ascribe to much beyond that, but there were a number of weird things that morning.

“It was too warm to take the jacket 
but I took it anyway,” she said.

And that is what the baby was wrapped in after being retrieved from the blue plastic bag he had been dumped in.

His rescuer said she had been talking to a fisherman on the beach when he had bent down, and the plastic bag had drifted directly into her line of vision.

And she just knew. She waded in, pulled the blue plastic bag from the water, and she and the fisherman opened it. Inside, still alive, was the baby.

They named him Sunrise, half for his location, half for the lick of red hair on his head.

The woman flagged down a jogger who was carrying a cellphone, to call the police.

“I don’t know how I knew she had a phone – it wasn’t visible – but she had one. I was just alive that day. I was seeing, hearing, everything. I suppose you could say, I was listening,” she said.

“Babies hold their breath when submerged, so all we needed to do to get him breathing again was open his little mouth.”

He had begun to turn a little blue by the time they reached him, but the moment his mouth was opened, he drew breath.

The woman said Sunrise was collected and taken to safety, and the case reported.

“I have followed his progress as he was moved from safety to hospital to find milk, and, to date, I believe he is still doing well,” she said.

In fact, she has since collected “a few little things” for him – being the practical sort – because, as she says, he has absolutely nothing, not a stitch of clothing and no parents.

Muizenberg police spokesman Captain Stephen Knapp confirmed police had responded to the discovery of the newborn on the beachfront.

The member of the public, recovered the plastic bag from the sea and upon opening it, discovered a newborn baby wrapped in a blanket, he said.

“The baby was stabilised on the scene and taken to Retreat day hospital where after he was transferred to Mowbray maternity hospital,” Captain Knapp said.

Various charges can be laid against women who dump their babies. Depending on the circumstances, these include, murder, attempted murder and concealment of birth.

Megan Wiles, who is friends with the woman who rescued Sunrise, said it was such a remarkable good news story that he was alive and well.

She said it was uncanny that her friend had waded in to fetch the blue plastic bag, and the timing of every aspect of it was remarkable.

Little Sunrise’s rescuer said she had watched as he had been taken away, with one foot and one little arm protruding from the blanket, and thought “Good for you, little guy. Today was not your day; good for you.”

* Attempted-murderand concealment-of-birth dockets have been registered at Muizenberg SAPS and are being investigated by Detective Sergeant Milicent Teichardt. Anybody with any information regarding the incident is asked to call 082 411 2455.

* Kathy Cronje, director of
The Safe House, a refuge for victims of domestic abuse, says women have options if they don’t not want to keep their babies.

“They can go to Sisters Incorporated who deal with adoption agencies and can stay there until after the birth,” she says.

When a baby is found abandoned, several steps are taken to get to look after it, she says, including the immediate notification of child protection services.

The baby, if not taken to hospital, would have gone to a registered safety parent until the next working day, where the Child Protection Agency would have taken the baby to court to have it placed in temporary safe care.”

Help is available in other forms too.

Hope4Babies is a project run by of King of Kings Church in Fish Hoek and helps women who want to give their babies up for adoption. Call 021 7854200 or 072 116 5403 for more information.

There is also a baby safe at the church – it’s a drop-off facility, open 24-hours a day where a woman can leave her baby anonymously.

Once a baby is placed in the baby safe and the door is closed, the door automatically locks keeping the baby safe.

The safe has been designed to detect an infant and once a baby is placed inside, the safe will instantly notify three different volunteers via telephone.

One of the local volunteers will then retrieve baby within minutes and the legal routes will then be followed.
The church does not deal with adoptions.