Bodies of Fetuses, Newborns Clog Harare’s Sewers

AP, Feb. 17, 2006

HARARE, Zimbabwe—The corpses of at least 20 newborn babies and fetuses are found each week in the sewers of Zimbabwe’s capital, some having been flushed down toilets, Harare city authorities said, according to state media Friday.

Town Clerk Nomutsa Chideya said the babies’ remains were found among a wide variety of waste and garbage cleared by city council workers unblocking sewers and drains in Harare.

“Apart from upsetting the normal flow of waste, it is not right from a moral standpoint. Some of the things that are happening now are shocking,” the state Herald, a government mouthpiece, reported Chideya as saying.

Acute shortages of revenue and gasoline in the nation’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 have crippled public utilities and garbage collection services across Zimbabwe.

Hospital fees and charges for scarce medicines have soared. Church and charity groups blame economic hardships for an increase in illegal back-street abortions.

Chideya said workers removed at least 20 tons of sand from sewers every day. Inflation is running at 613 percent and many impoverished Zimbabweans, unable to afford cleaning materials or detergents, use sand to scour cooking pots and household dishes.

Salt is also used as a substitute for toothpaste.

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