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28th May 2014

Two Mothers Begin Legal Battle After Finding Out Their Daughters Were Switched At Birth

The mistake was discovered four years later


Two mothers in South Africa are engaged in a legal battle after discovering that their daughters were switched at birth and they have mistakenly been raising the wrong child for four years.

Both mothers gave birth at the Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg on the same day in 2010 and were discharged without incident, meaning that the horrifying truth only came to light when one of the women sued her ex‑partner for maintenance for her daughter.

According to The Guardian, the man refused to accept responsibility and demanded a DNA test, which showed that the woman was not the biological mother of the child.

After the anomaly had been identified, both women entered counselling sessions together that included meeting their biological children. However, while one wishes to correct the error and raise her biological child, the other has refused.

Henk Strydom, a lawyer representing the mother who wishes to be reunited with her child, described the situation as a “tragedy”.

“She said there are resemblances to herself. She conveyed to me that it was traumatic. You can see it’s not easy for her. She has to care for a child that is not hers on her own while her child is with someone else,” he said.

“She wants the baby back but it seems the other mother is reluctant. It’s four years later: you can understand she doesn’t want to give up her baby.”

The University of Pretoria’s Centre for Child Law has been directed by the courts to investigate what would be in the best interests of the children, which is the guiding principle under South African law. The families are of Zulu ethnicity so Zulu tradition, culture and customary law will be considered as part of the case.