Another twist in child custody case

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Durban - An international businessman, who is in Durban to get back his two young boys who were “abducted” by his estranged wife, had to dash to the high court this week to get an interdict preventing his arrest on allegations that he raped her two years ago.

When the matter came before Judge Graham Lopes, advocate Ryan Naidu, for the minister of police, confirmed that a charge had been laid only recently. The offence was alleged to have been committed in December 2011, but there was no medical evidence.

In an order taken by consent, no warrant will be issued and he will not be arrested before the end of January, when the matter will be back in court.

Judge Lopes has ruled that, in the interests of the children, the couple cannot be identified and their country of origin must not be disclosed.

In his affidavit before the court, the businessman said his wife - whom he is now divorcing - had brought his two youngest children, both under 10, to South Africa in August without his consent and while he had been away on a business trip.

He brought an urgent application for their return, which she opposed, alleging he had abused her physically and emotionally and claiming the children were scared of their father.

He came to South Africa last month to attend an inquiry at the office of the Family Advocate - where the children ran up to him, hugging him in an “emotional reunion” - and had been here ever since.

Last Friday, “after hours of negotiation”, they settled the matter and Judge Lopes ordered that the children must be returned home the day after Christmas.

But since then, he claimed, his wife had indicated that she intended remaining in South Africa with the children, and the rape charge was a “fabrication” aimed at getting him arrested so that she could subvert the court order.

The man accuses his wife of trying to “sabotage” his application for the return of his children, including asking for a last-minute adjournment of last Friday’s hearing, which was refused by the judge.

He said he had agreed to allow the children to remain for Christmas “although I had grave doubts about this”, and “it has now become apparent that she was orchestrating a plan that would ensure that they never returned”.

Then, on Sunday, she sent him a text message, saying she had laid the charge of rape and a case number, and threatening to do the same in the country he lived in at present, and others where they had lived before.

“No threats, all done already,” she said.

He said these allegations were lies and questioned why, in her interview with the Family Advocate, in court papers and in court proceedings, she had alleged domestic violence but never rape or sexual assault.

The wife attended court this week, and consented to the order staying any warrant or arrest.

Judge Lopes made it clear that her husband was a free man and could leave the country. He is expected to return home with his children the day after Christmas.

The Mercury

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