Father on hunger strike in bid to see children
Solomon Mondlane has vowed to not move from outside the Department of Social Development until he has been given a commitment that he will see his children.
They are living with their maternal grandparents, who he said did not like him much.
Mondlane told the Pretoria News that while relations had not always been smooth with the family of his dead lover, things got worse when she died following an accident in 2017.
He said the rocky relations were due to him being a Swazi national with a South African mother and Mozambican father, and religious and cultural reasons.
In June 2017, Mondlane walked from Witbank to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to create awareness around the issue that he was facing.
Two years later, Mondlane said things had remained the same and he was told he had to pay a fee to be able to see his children, which did not make sense.
“I have never abused my children. I was there even though their mother and I were not married.
“There is also a report that apparently has allegations against me, but I have not seen it. I wrote to the (Social Development) department so many times with no response; so I had to make this extreme decision.”
He said he would not move until “I can hug and see my children”. “Why should I be supervised to see my children who I have been there for since they were born?
“This is my ninth day, drinking water only. I am sitting here, sleeping here and exposing myself to danger and crime but it is worth it for my children.
“I just want a commitment that I will see my children. They know I am here but will not address me.”
Mondlane said there was red tape blocking fathers. “I will be here until there is a commitment for me to see my children my heart would have immense joy.
“My children think they are orphans and not loved and that hurts.
“They release statistics on absent fathers but do not assist those that seek to be in their children’s lives.
“I am losing weight, taking meds on an empty stomach. It is tough, it is very rough. This is not me but I have been pushed to take this extreme route. I am not a sperm donor, I want to be there for my children that is all I want.
“Since I have been here lots of fathers have come to say they relate to the pain and this has become a movement. I am not a hero, I just want the powerless fathers to know they are not alone.”
Mondlane said there were discouraged fathers that had become so alienated they had given up.
Deputy Minister of Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, responding to Mondlane's pleas on radio, said she was aware of the situation.
“He got a response, he went to court and we know of his matter. Granted, he has had to go through counselling and supervised visits as they placed (sic) But he does not want to do any of the things the court wants him to do.”
She said they asked him to follow the court order on the matter as once custody is issued by the court it becomes a justice issue and that binds him and the department.
“He must tell us when he is ready. We will then send a social worker to go with him for the supervised visit.”
Mondlane lamented that he had to pay for the visit, while there was no reason for him to be charged and has vowed to fight the matter tooth and nail until he is able to see his children, aged 6 and 10.