Baby deaths at foster home a mystery

The results of an autopsy on one of two babies found dead at the Building Blocks children’s home in Pinelands showed the infant died of natural causes.
And police say the autopsy on the second baby would take place today.
The deaths on Tuesday of the babies, aged two months and sharing a cot at the time, has left Jenny Berger, co-founder of the home, devastated.

“We did nothing different. They had their feed and bath in the morning, and then were placed in the cot to sleep. They were smiling and gurgling, had their bottles and were each wrapped in a blanket.
“When I went to check on them again at around 7.45am, I found the one wasn’t breathing,” she said, adding that the baby was “still so warm”.
She picked up the baby and ran to her daughter Gia, who lives at the home and helps care for the children, who immediately called an ambulance.

The second baby girl was found later, when Jenny went back to check on her.
“The one baby was born on April 2, then wrapped in a blanket and placed in a church garden, where she was found the following morning.

“The second baby was born on April 4,” she said, adding that both infants were destined for foster parents.
“There was no medical history for the infants, as one was found abandoned and the other was born to a heroin addict mom.”

Berger and her staff took care of abandoned babies while the court and social workers decided on foster parents for them.
“At the moment I have nine children staying here, although sometimes there are a few more. I get called every day about abandoned babies needing a home,” she said tearfully, adding she had no words to describe the horror of discovering both babies were dead.

“I can’t describe what it felt like. The children become like my own and I can’t begin to tell you what I felt and how I’m feeling now. How can you explain a cot death?”
Her daughter said that when her mother came running with the first baby, she put her ear to the child’s chest to listen for a heartbeat, then called for an ambulance.

“The baby was still so warm. My mom really needs support, she has done a wonderful job with the children. It’s her way of giving back.”
On Wednesday, the family was visited by Bonginkosi Madikizela, MEC of Human Settlements, who is the acting MEC of Social Development, as well as Albert Fritz, Community Safety MEC.

Madikizela said they were there to sympathise and not to blame anyone.
“We are dealing with this jointly and came to find out what happened. We are providing support. Tests are being done to find out exactly what happened,” she explained.

Police spokesman Warrant Officer November Filander confirmed the autopsy results for the first baby had come back as natural causes, and that the second autopsy would be done today.
“The investigation is still ongoing,” he said.

natasha.bezuidenhout@inl.co.za - Cape Argus