A 23-year-old woman, apprehended for alleged shoplifting in Table View, suddenly went into labour in police holding cells on Thursday morning and gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Cape Town police said.
"It was very quick," said Captain Adriana Chandler, on the surprise arrival.
Chandler said police had been called by a shopping mall over a shoplifting complaint involving the woman. It was not immediately clear what she was alleged to have stolen.
The woman was taken to the police station's holding cells for routine processing.
Chandler said that, in usual circumstances, if a woman was pregnant, police officers would ask questions about medical requirements while collecting their personal details.
But in this case, the baby decided otherwise, taking everybody by surprise.
"The woman was very small. The officers could not tell that she was pregnant. She carried very small," said Chandler.
"Her waters broke," said Chandler. "The police rushed to her aid to assist her."
Officers kept her calm until the arrival of Community Medics CEO Kevin Jones and Fabio Moreira, an advanced life support paramedic volunteer for Community Medics, as well as a department of health metro employee.
Staff at the station bought the baby a few items, and her mother was given a care package from the Victim Support Room.
After the birth, the baby, all wrapped up in a crocheted blanket, and her mother, were taken to a nearby hospital.
"Both mom and baby are doing very well," said Chandler. "The mother was also very grateful to everyone who helped her."
She added that acting station commander Lieutenant Colonel Hendrik Nel had thanked Moreira and Jones for delivering the baby safely.
The status of the accusation against the woman was not clear yet, but police released her.
She had not chosen a name for her daughter yet by the time she left for the hospital.