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A court order confirming that a mother gave away her parental responsibilities over her 10-year-old son and agreed not to have any contact with him for 20 years has been rescinded in another high court ruling.
The mother told the North Gauteng High Court she knew nothing about this “agreement” or about the subsequent order flowing from the agreement.
The order, emanating from a “settlement agreement” in which the mother signed away her parental responsibilities towards the boy and “agreed” to have no contact with him for 20 years, has been overturned.
The judge, whose “signature” appeared on two versions of the agreement, was adamant his signature was falsified. The two further versions were even more damning than the first, terminating everyone’s rights to the boy except that of an advocate who brought an application to exclusive rights over the boy.
In terms of the “agreement”, social services were also forbidden from contacting the boy for the next 20 years or to go within 20m of him. Social workers said it was absurd that they would consent to this, as it would constitute a crime on their part.
The result of the terms contained in the “agreement” was that neither the child’s mother nor social services could have a say over the child. This included whether he could be adopted and who adopted him. The “agreement” also stopped him from being taken out of the country.
The advocate who obtained the “order” would in effect have had complete say and control over the child.
Judge Johan Louw, who reserved judgment in a contempt of court application regarding the advocate and a series of other applications, said he did not need to make a finding on the lawyer’s conduct.
All he needed to do was to refer the matter to the Bar Association for investigation.
The mother turned to court, with the help of the Centre for Child Law, and said in court papers that she had given permission for her son to stay at a Christian children’s home in a town in North West, as she was battling to take care of him.
The deal was that the church would allow her to see her son as often as she wanted. The advocate, she said, appointed himself as curator over her son. He then sent her two orders, signed by a judge, which read that she had agreed not to see her son for 20 years.
She said the effect of the order was so wide that the boy’s entire family could not have contact with him.
She would never have signed such an agreement. “I love all my children and I would not give any of them away. I was terribly upset and shocked when I saw the order.”
When the registrar of the judge saw the orders and showed them to the judge, he was also surprised as it was not his signature that appeared on them.
The advocate was called on earlier by Judge Louw to explain himself. The judge said he had not seen such orders, which went against the Children’s Act.
Asked by the judge who had compiled and signed the contested settlement agreements and orders, the advocate denied he had done so. Judge Louw said it appeared as if the documents emanated from the same computer as the other documents compiled by the advocate.
This was admitted by the advocate, but he was adamant he did not falsify the documents. He could not explain how they came from his computer.
Judge Louw ordered the advocate to hand all court papers regarding the boy to the lawyers acting for the mother and other parties. While the advocate has handed some over, he said he had destroyed the rest as he had withdrawn the other applications. The judge has yet to rule whether he should be held in contempt of court.
Lawyers for the Centre for Child Law told the judge that if he found fraud had been involved, they would consider seeking criminal charges against the advocate regarding possible child trafficking. The judge was also told that the director of public prosecutions had been asked to look into the matter.