Charmaine Keevy heard some noises originating from a nearby drain and assumed that it was possibly a cat. But her instincts told her that this wasn’t the case, so she decided to get some help. What she discovered was extremely jaw-dropping and suddenly everyone realized that miracles were real.
Charmaine, 63, is the business owner of a catering company located in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. This means she gets to pick which hours she works. So one morning, she was walking with Georgie, her wiener dog. This day in April started off typical. But then her dog began to bark repeatedly at the gutter’s drain duct, and that’s when things changed.
Charmaine was confused because Georgie didn’t bark that often. Then she noticed a faint cry from the nearby drain. She assumed it was a cat who was trapped, so she got on her knees and strained to listen a bit more. That’s when she knew that the sounds she heard weren’t from a cat and she began panicking. She wasn’t sure what was stuck in the drain and she wanted to check it out, but she couldn’t do it alone.
The storm drain had a concrete cover that was too big for Charmaine to remove on her own. So, she started waving at drivers in the off-chance that one of them might be willing to pull over and lend a hand. But since most folks were heading to work, it was doubtful anyone would stop to help a perfect stranger. But fortunately, Charmaine’s odds were in her favor.
Cornie Viljoen, an electric fence installer, decided to stop. That’s when Charmaine told him what was happening, so he got down to listen closely. He also heard the tiny cries that appeared to be from a human. So Viljoen walked to his car and pulled a steel bar from his trunk. Then, Charmaine helped him to use the bar to lift the concrete cover over the drain. Then they took a peak but saw nothing.
It was six feet down to get to the bottom of the drain, so Viljoen climbed carefully. Once he landed, he felt a bunch of stinging on his legs. That’s when he noticed he had stepped on a red ant colony. Regardless, he kept pushing forward, but moving in the drain wasn’t exactly as easy as he thought it would be.
Viljoen recalled: “When I got into the hole it was higher than my head and it was so narrow that I had to go down on my knees and I couldn’t bend over.” He began feeling in the dark using his hands in order to find what it was that was doing the crying. Then he felt something that was spine-tingling.
Viljoen had touched what seemed like a baby’s leg with his hand. Before long, he realized that what he and Charmaine had heard was in fact a baby. He immediately grabbed his phone and took a photo to document the ordeal. Then he picked the baby up cautiously because he wasn’t sure if it was injured. But that’s when he uncovered something horrifying.
Viljoen and Charmaine had found a baby girl, who still had her umbilical cord and was laying there without clothes on. “She was so small,” said Viljoen. “I just wanted to hold her for a while but I knew that she needed urgent medical help.” Per his instructions, Charmaine called emergency services, but they weren’t sure if the baby would survive.
Viljoen gave Charmaine the baby, who wrapped the baby in a jersey until the paramedics and the cops arrived. The baby was suffering from hypothermia but was treated at the scene and then taken to Dora Nginza Hospital. That’s when the child’s overall health and condition became painfully obvious.
Provincial Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo had heard of the baby that was rescued from a storm drain and decided to make a statement. He explained how the cold had left the baby with a respiratory infection and hypothermia. But what’s even more stunning was that Charmaine and Viljoen had gotten to the baby with only moments to spare, according to the social worker who was handling the case.
Pamela Rubushe, the assigned social worker, believed that the baby had been placed in the drain several hours before being found and almost lost her life to the elements. Then Viljoen stated: “I just do not know why anyone could do this to a newborn baby but I was just so glad that we were able to help her and save her life.” Police wondered the same thing as they searched for answers.
A plea went out from Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu asking anyone with information to reach out to authorities. Cops opened an investigation into this case of concealment of birth and abandonment of a child. The department’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Crimes Unit also lent a hand in searching for the child’s mom. But Charmaine feels that they should be looking for more than just the mother.
Charmaine explained: “There is no way that a mother who had just given birth could have lifted that heavy concrete cover on her own as it took me and a very strong man with a big steel bar to get the lintel off the drain. There are clearly people out there who know who the mother and baby are.” Fortunately, the baby is one heck of a little trooper.
Viljoen stated: “She is not out of the woods yet but she is breathing on her own now and the nurses say she will make it.” The baby was named Grace April by the hospital staff, and she’s become the star of the neonatal ward. If her mother can’t be found, Ms. Rubushe will have to find her a new home. But despite the way the child started out, Charmaine feels she’s got a shot at a great life.
Charmaine told reporters, “I cannot help but feel that there is some sort of a plan and a purpose for that little girl’s life. I honestly believe I was meant to find that baby by God as I usually take a different route on my dog walk…I hope if the mother does not come forward that Grace April finds a loving family and makes her mark on this world.”