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Pregnant South Africans drink to harm their babies

07:53 Tue Jan 8 2013
Bernadette Chua

Pregnant South African women are deliberately drinking large quantities of alcohol to harm their unborn babies in a bid to earn more welfare money.

The mothers, who are living in the Eastern Cape — one of the poorest areas in South Africa — binge drink to claim a disability benefit from the government before using their disabled children as a source of income.

Video taken by Sky News shows a mother drinking a homemade brew called 'kah-kah' while heavily pregnant.

"If I don't drink this, I'm like someone who is sick," one mother told Sky News.

"I can't sleep and I can't think straight but when I have this then I am better and I can do anything."

The addictive milky brown brew is made from yeast, water and battery acid and is sold in illegal drinking houses called 'shebeens'.

The World Health Organisation reports there has been a spike in the area of children born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) since 2002.

The irreversible symptoms mean children suffer from speech problems, physical deformities, learning difficulties and behavioural issues.

Families receive 250 South African rand ($35) per child, per month but a disabled child brings in 1200 rand a month ($1505) — a "lucrative" income.

The woman said she drank between "five to six bottles a day" and the binge drinking would start from nine in the morning.

Police often raid the drinking houses but another usually opens as soon as one is shut.