A 20-year-old orphan who, with the help of a friend, used a stick to terminate her five-month-old pregnancy narrowly escaped jail when sentenced at Francistown Magistrates Court on Monday.
On an emotionally charged day in court, it was revealed that, on the 18th of January this year, a desperate Pearl David sought the assistance of close friend Boitumelo Bafana, 31, to carry out a brutal backyard abortion.
Bafana is said to have told David to lie on her back, before inserting a stick into her vagina. She then instructed her friend not to remove the stick until ‘blood comes out’.
David, who already has a four-year-old child, slept with the stick lodged inside her, waking up the next morning in pain and discomfort.
Later, as the pain increased, David hoovered over a bucket until the dead, bloody foetus of her unborn daughter eventually slipped out.
Passing judgment, Magistrate Dumisani Basupi gave both women a wholly suspended four-year jail sentence on condition they do not commit a similar offence again.
The duo were ordered to pay P500 each within the next seven days, with failure to pay resulting in a 12-month prison term.
Explaining the reasoning behind his seemingly lenient sentencing, Basupi stressed that both women were first-time offenders who pleaded guilty and appeared remorseful.
The magistrate added that backyard abortions were becoming a worryingly common occurrence.
He grimly noted that the number of babies discovered dumped in toilets and bushes was increasing every day, as was the number of mothers dying from botched abortions carried out at home.
Startled by these comments, The Voice spoke to Leseding Medical Centre’s Doctor Devies Makwinja in an effort to shed some light on the hazards of backyard abortions.
“We have two types of backyard abortion – concoction and physical abortion. Concoction is when one terminates their pregnancy with chemicals while physical abortion is when one uses sticks or metals to kill the unborn baby,” explained Makwinja.
The private doctor went on to warn that backyard abortion was extremely dangerous as it could potentially lead to perforations of the uterine and cervical laceration, where one bleeds to death.
“Other side effects include fever, pain, bladder or bowl injury, anxiety, abscess, post traumatic disorder because of losing the baby and physical trauma and anemia because of bleeding.
“Furthermore the abortion can be incomplete where the placenta and other products remain in the body and end up decomposing and becoming septic. This leads to infection in the pelvic flow and can cause death in few days,” he cautioned.