The pressure group Action Society strongly condemns the actions by members of the police for arresting a father who went to buy formula milk for his new-born baby. The man was detained in the early hours of Friday morning on 8 January, within walking distance of his Centurion home, after violating the curfew regulations.
“The care of babies, children, the elderly and other vulnerable people in our society should now, at a time when the Covid-19 virus is peaking again, be a priority. This incident is unacceptable and we request government to respond,” says Daleen Gouws, spokesperson for Action Society.
According to Lily Rautenbach, the lawyer of the Wierdapark family, the new-born was struggling to feed. The father was obliged leave his house to buy formula milk at a hospital’s pharmacy. Under the current circumstances this was the only 24-hour service available.
Although the father had sufficient proof for his whereabouts, he was treated like a criminal and detained at the police station for hours. The police also refused to deliver the formula milk to his desperate wife and baby. She had to walk with the baby in the dark to the place of arrest to collect the infant milk herself.
“Our hospitals are under immense pressure; consequently babies are discharged almost immediately after birth. It is extremely difficult for inexperienced, new parents to determine what their baby’s needs will be. Government and the department of social development urgently need to sit down to address the needs of vulnerable parties. Health services for emergencies should be accessible at all times, regardless of the Covid-19 situation,” says Gouws.
Action Society further demands that action should be taken against these police officers. Their misinterpretation of the law to arrest a man who is violating the curfew, but allowing a defenceless woman and baby to walk alone in the dark during the same timeframe is unacceptable.
“It seems like the lockdown regulations have turned into a police power play. The sole purpose of the curfew is to protect South Africans from the virus. Exceptions and humanity should be communicated more clearly to members of police. Amidst the crisis we are experiencing police should continue to play a supportive role in protecting South African citizens.”
ISSUED BY: Action Society
DATE: 11 January 2021