Local News

Homeless mentally challenged woman gives birth on her own

A homeless woman in the Nketa 9 suburb of Bulawayo, who was reportedly coping with mental health difficulties and residing outside the local shops, was allegedly abused and became pregnant.

No one appeared to know when the woman (name not disclosed) started showing signs of mental illness. Certain residents who claimed to have been acquainted with her mentioned that her mental challenges began sometime in 2021, while others believed it was later.

Nonetheless, a food vendor, who preferred to remain unidentified and often provided her with food and clothing, stated that she arrived at the Nketa 9 shops in 2021. She mentioned that when the woman first started staying and sleeping behind one of the shops, she did not display any signs of mental illness.

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Over time, she observed a deterioration in the woman’s mental health, showing signs that she was no longer stable. Describing her as considerate and intelligent, the woman was surprised to learn that the “mentally challenged” woman had recently given birth to a healthy baby girl behind one of the shops, B Metro reports.

“When she introduced herself, and the first time I saw her, her legs were swollen, and she explained that she had walked from Gokwe on foot. She was mentally stable and narrated the story of how her mother-in-law chased her out of her matrimonial home and ordered her to leave her children. She indicated that her grandmother is from Masvingo in the Jerera area,” she said.

She added: “At first, we would talk, but as time passed, her mental state deteriorated. I took it upon myself to help her with meals, clothing, and water. As time went by, she began to avoid me. I believe this was due to her pregnancy, which I only learned about a week before she gave birth,” she said.

However, in a remarkable display of strength, she delivered a baby girl entirely on her own. She was later taken to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where she and her baby are receiving further medical care.

“This world is a wicked place,” the woman said, her voice thick with shock. “I used to see her always wearing jackets. I had no idea she was pregnant. She would tell me she was beautiful, and that most men who drink at Nketa 9 Shopping Centre would take turns sleeping with her at night for 10 Rand. Given her mental state, I didn’t believe her claims, but it’s clear she was telling the truth,” she said.

According to the woman, the victim’s stomach was not even protruding enough to show obvious signs of pregnancy, which is why they did not recognise that she was expecting.

“The one thing I don’t know is who fathered the baby. If there are any suspects, perhaps they could be brought together for the woman to identify if she’s able. DNA testing at Nust (National University of Science and Technology) could then be conducted,” she said, her voice weary.

Another resident, who also preferred to remain anonymous, said people would not notice the woman’s mental instability unless they looked at her closely.

“You would see her sitting like anyone else, except that her hair was always unkempt and her clothes dirty.’”

Ward 25 Councillor Aleck Ndlovu, in whose jurisdiction Nketa 9 falls, said they were investigating the person who took advantage of the vulnerable woman.

“We are still investigating the case and we urge community members who have information about the culprit to come forward and help us,” he said.

He applauded the efforts of the women in the community who have been helping the victim and her child.

“A woman at the shops has been doing a fantastic job caring for the victim since 2021, and now visiting her daily at the hospital. The community has rallied as well, donating money and clothing to help her through this challenge. We have set up a donation desk at the shops for well-wishers to contribute funds,” he said.

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