A year ago today, Imelda gave birth in the latrine at her family’s small, one-room home with curtains for dividers in a small community. She said she did not know she was about to give birth; instead, she told her lawyer, she “felt something come loose”. She screamed for help, fainted and started to haemorrhage.
Her mother took her to the local public hospital, where they saw that she had given birth. She was pregnant, she told health professionals, because her stepfather had raped her repeatedly from the age of 12. This was documented by the hospital, but not acted upon. Instead, they notified police. At her home, the baby was rescued from the latrine without any injuries.
Imelda was charged with attempted aggravated homicide, although no evidence was presented that she had taken any action to endanger or attempt to murder the baby. She has been in detention for the past year, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for 30 April.