Single father’s efforts to get daughter’s custody fail
Ever since his baby’s mother died, Tshupegetso Makabe of Molepolole has been trying to get his daughter from her mother’s relatives, a mission which proved to be impossible.
The 40-year-old father said his live-in girlfriend, Tlamelo Seumako, left for Mabula, her home village to give birth last year in May but never came back because of an illness which later took her life in July.
“The baby was left with the mother’s aunt who didn’t have a problem with me taking the child but thought she was still too young. She promised I would get the baby after six months,” said Makabe.
When six months elapsed and Makabe tried to get his baby he was told to wait another six months.
This time around there was an uncle who seemed determined that he should never get his child. At the beginning of August the old aunt who was looking after the baby died leaving Makabe to deal with the unrelenting uncle.
According to Makabe, the uncle who works for a mine in South Africa has said he would not let go off the child and left her with his girlfriend when he went back to work.
The only other close surviving relative is an aunt with a chronic drinking problem and the concerned father said she is not fit to look after a child.
“She wakes up in the morning to drink khadi (traditional brew) the whole day and she used to take the child with her and this is not good for my daughter. I can understand why the uncle does not trust her sister with the child because I wouldn’t trust her either, but I just don’t understand why he doesn’t give me the child,” Makabe said.
When the late aunt was alive, he said, she used to allow the little girl, now a year and three months old, to visit him and stay for up to a week but now he is not sure if that will ever happen. To make matters worse, Makabe and the uncle’s girlfriend are not in good terms.
“I wonder if she will ever allow for my daughter to come for a visit,” said the concerned father who added that he was told by the uncle to pay maintenance to his girlfriend but he has reservations about that. He said he was worried that if he sent the money to her it might not be used for his daughter.
The last time he called to check on his daughter, he said he was told she didn’t have diapers despite that he had sent money not long ago.
“I don’t think their holding on to my baby has anything to do with love. They want to receive food items for orphans and get maintenance money from me. I will not allow that. My child needs the love and care of a parent which I am willing to provide.
“When I’m busy, my mother is alive and can love her like her own daughter. Besides I have sisters who can look after her. I am her closest family and it’s not fair for my daughter to be with someone who is not even related to her. What guarantee do I have that she will be loved like I will love her.”
The loving father said he had already been to the District Commissioner’s office trying to get his daughter. The DC’s office however referred him to the Magistrate’s court where he was informed that custody cases are handled by the High court.
Makabe said he also wanted his daughter to be close to good medical care in case anything happened.
The nearest hospital to that place is over 70 kilometres away, that is in Goodhope. I also want her to start pre-school next year and there are no pre- schools there. Because of the distance and lack of transport I am not able to visit my
daughter when I want,” he stated.