The parents of two Cape Town boys are grappling with the emotional and legal fallout after discovering that their sons — now aged 14 — were swapped at birth at a hospital in the city.
Western Cape authorities are investigating the baby-switching incident, confirming this week that an inquiry had been launched last year.
We have decided not to name the parties involved, or give other identifying details, to protect the children.
The baby swap was discovered after the father of one of the boys — embroiled in a maintenance dispute with the mother — questioned the boy’s paternity because there was little physical resemblance between them. The man insisted on a DNA test, which proved he was not the father. The woman then also had a DNA test, which showed she was not the mother.
The woman said she was told in June that her biological son was being raised in the same neighbourhood.
“I have bonded with [this child, but] I want to see my blood,” she said. The woman said she was keen to meet the couple raising her biological son. “I want to meet with them so they can perform rituals for their child. This ordeal has caused us both inconvenience,” she said.
The man involved told the Sunday Times this week that the thought of his child being raised elsewhere caused him sleepless nights.
“A social worker contacted me and informed me that the child had been found and that they had been switched at birth. She stated that the child is ours psychologically, but biologically he belongs to the other parent, and vice versa,” the father said.
“She said she would call both families to a meeting. Words cannot express how much this has disrupted my life.
“Knowing that my child is being raised by someone else haunts me. I occasionally wake up in the middle of the night. I requested that the social worker provide at least one photograph of this child. But she said I couldn’t see the child,” he said.
“It worries me because this is a boy who needs to go to the mountain. He will require the assistance of his biological family to carry out the necessary rituals.”
He said the baby swap had strained relations between him and the child’s mother.
“It involved monetary costs as well as the courts,” he said. “I was surprised when I was told that my child had been found. My family was taken aback.”
He said he was excited about meeting his biological child but admitted that the path forward would not be easy.
“I am worried that this child has been raised differently and that we might struggle to have a parent-child bond with him,” he said. “But at the same time, I was thinking that we should not disturb him now and let him concentrate on his studies, and tell him when he is 18. I just want to [meet] the family that raised him and keep communicating.