Former and current Limpopo teen moms have described the serious health, social, and economic issues that come with adolescent pregnancy.
According to Statistics South Africa, over 90 000 girls below the age of 19 gave birth between March 2021 and April 2022 across the country, making it one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies ever recorded.
Muvhumbi Sinthumule 21, from Tshivhulani village near Ṱhohoyanḓou, became a mother at the age of 17. She says she lost her way after her mother, who was her biggest source of inspiration and guidance, died a few years ago.
Her father, who is the only breadwinner for the family, was hardly ever at home as he had to work and provide for his family. Sinthumule attributed her moral erosion to unbridled freedom and lack of consistent parental guidance.
Sinthumule says, “When I fell pregnant it was due to a lot of freedom because I lost my mother, then I had no one who could talk to me and guide me. I met the guy we did things with and it was not easy.”
She adds that becoming an adolescent mother saw her dream of pursuing a university degree deferred abruptly. She says she now faces an uphill battle raising her offspring without a stable income.
“I came across a lot of difficulties because the baby daddy ran away during the pregnancy stage. It was so hard that I nearly committed suicide. When I had to go to the clinic, I had no money and I had to walk long distances alone. I had no one to turn to, sometimes I would cry,” explains Sinthumule.
Takalani Malidzhi 19, who is also an adolescent mother from Shayandima, outside Ṱhohoyanḓou, says she became a mother at 16 years old. Takalani issued a frank warning to her peers who may be involved in sexual activities at a young age.
“I would like to advise teenagers who are engaging in sexual activity that lead to teenage pregnancy because boys can leave you and sometimes you will have to drop out of school because you will not have someone to take care of the baby. You will also not take responsibility for the child because you are young.”
As South Africa concludes youth month, adolescent pregnancy remains a cause for concern.
Rising numbers of child and teen pregnancies in South Africa:
Story by: Baatseba Mabowa