Swapped at birth but only one of the mothers wants to swap the little girls back.

Two baby girls swapped at birth. Now a court decides their fate.




In a case like this, it’s hard not to wonder if there will be any winners and losers — or just hearts broken all round.

A court in South Africa has been given the difficult task of deciding the fate of two families whose babies were switched at birth.

The two mothers, who have only recently found out that their daughters were biologically not their own, are now facing off in the South African court system. What complicates this case even further is that one mother wants to keep the daughter she has come to know as her own, while the second mother wants her biological baby back.

The mums only found out about the mistake when the girls were aged three.

One of the unnamed mothers had sued her ex-husband, the father of her eldest child, for maintenance for her younger child. He denied paternity and ordered DNA tests.

The mother never thought for a second they would come back showing he wasn’t in fact the baby’s father. But they did — and further to that, the little girl was not in fact related to either of them.

The Tambo Memorial Hospital in Johannesburg where the girls were born.

“She got the shock of her life when she found out,” the woman’s lawyer, Henk Strydom, told The Times of South Africa.

After an investigation, the women were told that their babies were swapped at birth.


Both girls were born in the Tambo Memorial Hospital in Johannesburg, although it is unclear how the error was made.

The women then decided to meet and gradually met their own biological daughters last December. Henk Strydom said his client saw resemblances to herself in her biological daughter.

“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,” Mr Strydom said.

Ultimately, one of the mothers “became unhappy” with the process and approached the children’s court in a bid to exchange the child she has been caring for since birth. But it was not to be that simple.

The other mother refused.

The Times of South Africa reports that the child law centre said: “The switching of the babies was discovered only recently and has undoubtedly caused significant trauma for the two families.”

“The matter should be resolved as soon as possible to mitigate the damage that has already been done,” the centre reportedly said.

The case is currently before the North Gauteng High Court which will determine whether the children should be returned to their biological mothers after the University of Pretoria’s Centre for child law conducts a 90-day investigation to determine what outcome will be in both children’s best interests.

The situation has been compared to King Solomon’s decision

The woman’s lawyer compared the tragic circumstances to that of King Solomon. Henk Strydom said, “Someone has to make a very difficult decision. It really is a situation on a biblical scale.”

This is not the first child-swap case in South Africa.

In 1989, in Johannesburg two single mothers gave birth to sons within half an hour of each other. But tragically a nurse made a life-changing mistake, putting the wrong nametags on the newborn babies.

What made this case so famous was that when the mistake was realised months later, the mothers decided not to swap back the babies. However, the story grew complicated when, at the age of 16, one of the boys decided to seek out and live with his real mother.

Heartbreakingly, this left one family devastated and alone.

Bruce Laing, a clinical psychologist in Johannesburg, told The Times of South Africa that the long-term effects of a baby swap could be “profound”, “terrifying” and “incredibly traumatising”.

“An increasingly complicated situation is that some resentment towards a child that is not yours might occur. The parents might always be thinking, ‘What if?'”

Our thoughts are with these two innocent little girls caught up in this difficult saga.