South African filmmaker Bonginhlanhla Ncube aka Mr B, director of the feature film 48, has made a documentary that focuses on the scourge of baby dumping in Pretoria. Titled Form 36, the film was inspired by Tahiyya Hassim’s New beginningz, a centre which cares for abandoned babies in the Laudium township.
Says Mr B: “I decided to tell Tahiyya’s story to the world but with a further reality twist. A “baby wall’ with a window exists in Sunnyside where mothers or fathers who don’t want their babies can come and leave them in safety. The house moms immediately react to an alarm that tells them a baby has been left in the window. They then fetch the baby and immediately follow a procedure before Tahiyya comes to get the baby. Tahiyya takes the baby to join others at a safe facility and after some paperwork the baby is ready to be given up to its new parents.
“Form 36 starts at the beginning and shows different scenarios of unwanted pregnancies and includes comments from doctors and a psychologist, with a hint of public opinion from the street.’
Mr B has already interviewed two mothers who had left their babies at the “baby wall’ and has covered a lot of real-life scenes with babies being picked up by Tahiyya. He says the most touching story is that of baby Thomas (his adoptive name), who was abandoned by his mom at the Union Buildings early this year.
Form 36 is the title of a form used by Social Development to identify and legalise all abandoned babies. Mr B hopes to raise awareness of this scourge and get funders to help donate to the centre so that they can accommodate more babies.
“I also hope to save at least one life through this film,’ continues Mr B. “If just one mom contemplating abortion or thinking of flushing the baby down the toilet upon birth watches my film and realises there are better options then I will be happy. I would also like big corporates to realise that instead of sponsoring soccer, maybe they should consider giving a baby the opportunity to live.’
Mr B hopes that all TV channels will care enough about the issue to screen the film, as well as film festivals.
“Government must make sure every girl child has a copy of the film or else we are just inhuman,’ he states.
Form 36 is the first production from Mr B after his 2011 action flick 48, which triumphed at the Honolulu Film Awards and premiered in Hollywood early this year. The film was in the top five nominated films from South Africa in this year’s Africa Movie Academy Awards. It received marketing support from the National Film and Video Foundation.