Pretoria - A North Gauteng High Court judge has asked the Bar Society of Advocates to investigate allegations against an advocate after it was claimed he was involved in falsifying court orders in terms of which a mother “agreed” to give him full authority over the fate of his 10-year-old son.
In terms of the “agreement”, the mother undertook not to contact her son for the next 20 years. The “settlement agreement” – claimed to have been signed by a social worker – also had clauses in which the mother “agreed” not to come within 20m of the boy for the next 20 years.
The mother and social services said they had not signed such agreements. It was also alleged that the court order granting Klerksdorp advocate Paul Nieuwoudt sole say over the child was falsified.
Judge Johan Louw said on Friday he could not make a finding of contempt of court at this stage, but there were serious allegations against Nieuwoudt that should be investigated by the Bar.
Depending on the Bar’s findings, he would revisit the contempt of court application, the judge said.
The mother, with the help of the Centre for Child Law, turned to the court when the advocate served an order on her that she had signed off all her responsibilities to her child.
The mother said she could not take care of her son, but he was being looked after at a Christian children’s home where she could visit him as often as she wished.
She said she loved her son and would not sign away her parental responsibilities. She was shocked when she saw the “agreement” that had been made an order of court, she said. She got wind of the order only when Nieuwoudt served it on her. He had brought the application to have sole say over the child without her knowledge.
The social worker involved in the child’s case said she would not have signed such an “agreement” as it was contrary to the Children’s Act.
The effect of the agreement and subsequent order was that the advocate would decide the child’s fate, whether he could be adopted and by whom, and whether he could be taken out of the country.
The judge purported to have signed the order and agreement denied the signature on the order was his.
Judge Louw called Nieuwoudt to explain how this had come about. The advocate denied any knowledge of the falsified agreement and order.
He agreed that it seemed to have been typed on his computer, but denied he had done this.
The advocate also denied any wrongdoing that prompted the mother, the social worker and the church to make several court applications.
The judge overturned the “order” last week. He was also asked to hold Nieuwoudt in contempt of court and to subject him to a sanction deemed fit by the court. This matter is being referred to the Bar.
The judge said there were three affidavits in which three people said their signatures had been falsified – the mother, social worker and a security guard at the church who signed acknowledgement of receipt of the court order. The guard was adamant he had not signed for it.
The judge said Nieuwoudt was the only person who wanted to rely on the documents. The mother and social worker said the advocate had personally gave them the falsified order. All these issues should be investigated.