Pregnant South African women are deliberately drinking large quantities of alcohol to harm their unborn babies in a bid to earn more welfare money, it has been claimed.
Expectant mothers living in the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest areas in South Africa, are bingeing on a ‘moonshine’ type drink which contains battery acid – with some drinking up to five and six bottles a day.
It has been reported they do it to claim a disability benefit from the government – 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 woman 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.
It is sold in illegal drinking dens called ‘shebeens’.
The houses are often raided by police who close them down. But as soon as one is shut, another opens.
The World Health Organisation said there has been an increase in the number of babies born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the area since 2002.
The syndrome is also the most common birth defect in South Africa.
The irreversible symptoms mean children suffer from speech problems, physical deformities, learning difficulties and behavioural issues.
Families receive 250 South African rand – or £18 – per child, per month but a disabled child brings in around 1200 rand a month (£87).
In some of the farming communities, the World Health Organisation said heavy drinking partly stems from the 400-year-old practice of giving slaves and their descendants alcohol in recompense and to keep them captive through addiction.
The woman filmed said she drank between ‘five to six bottles a day’ and the binge drinking would start from nine in the morning.