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A disgruntled Joburg father who wanted full parental rights and no longer wanted to co-parent with his ex-wife and mother of his child, has had his application dismissed by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.
The father went to court seeking full parental rights, arguing that the mother was barely in the young boy’s life and that it would be in the best interest of the child if she was stripped of contact rights as she was inconsistent in his life and the child barely knew her. He also argued she had exposed the child to inappropriate sexual conduct.
The mother objected, arguing that she lost her job and had to relocate back to Namibia as she no longer had the required documentation to remain in South Africa. He also blamed the father for blocking her attempts to see the child.
The court ruled in the mother’s favour, appointed a social worker and the office of the family advocate to conduct an investigation to determine if the mother’s contact rights and parental responsibilities should be terminated or not.
The divorced couple got married in January 2016, had one child and got divorced in October 2019.
They were awarded equal parental responsibilities and rights, but the father was awarded rights to primary residence and care.
The settlement agreement was concluded after the family advocate investigated the best interests of the child in respect of care, contact and his residence.
After some time, the father approached the court in an effort to strip his ex-wife’s rights towards their child.
He painted the mother in a negative light and said in January 2018, she had relocated with the child to Cape Town without informing him. The child was found after he appointed a tracer, who found her in Gansbaai, Western Cape in March 2018.
He said when he finally got in contact with the child, the child exhibited inappropriate sexual conduct.
He told the court that in January 2020, the mother had Skype contact with the child for a few months and then stopped calling.
In July 2020, she sent the father a WhatsApp text indicating that she would not call the child anymore as she cannot stand being abused by him (dad or child - make this clear).
He further alleged that the mother and her family blocked him on their cell phones and he could not contact them.
He told the court that he experiences various problems due to the absence of the mother. He has family in Namibia and cannot visit as he requires the mother’s consent to travel outside South Africa.
In her defence, the mother said due to the divorce, she no longer had a valid visa to remain in South Africa and she also lost her job and she had no other option but to return to Namibia.
She admitted to sending a message saying she will never make contact with the child, but said she was vulnerable at the time. But after that, she attempted to contact the child, however, the father refused to grant her contact.
She testified that she made social media posts and created donation pages in order to get financial assistance to pay for legal fees in litigation against the father.
Moreover, she said her non-existent contact and relationship with the child was not due to any act or omission on her part but rather due to an intentional refusal by the father.
Regarding the inappropriate sexual conduct of the minor child, the mother suggested that they appoint Sarie Nel, a registered social worker, to investigate and assess the allegations and the costs of the assessment will paid equally by the parties.
When looking at the evidence, Judge Jacobus Johannes Strijdom said it was evident that the mother wants to be part of the child’s life and wants to have contact to the child but was unable because of the strained relationship she has with the father.
“I conclude that without a proper investigation into the best interest of the child by the family advocate and a social worker, a proper case has not been made out for the relief sought by the father,” said the judge.
Judge Strijdom said the social worker suggested by the mother or any other suitably qualified professional must conduct a forensic investigation into the best interest of the child regarding the contact with the mother.
“The office of the family advocate is ordered to carry out an investigation forthwith, and to complete a report setting out its findings with respect to whether the mother’s parental responsibilities and contact rights must be terminated or not,” added the judge Strijdom.