Cape Times E-dition

Parents in tug-of-war over child, 7


A TUG-OF-WAR between the parents of a boy, aged 7, has resulted in a judge putting his foot down in the interest of the child.

He appointed a parenting co-ordinator in a bid to get the fighting parents to try and find common ground regarding the child.

A Johannesburg judge said the high court was the upper-guardian of minors.

In this capacity, the court had an obligation always to act in the best interests of children. Thus, in this case, if the parents could not see eye to eye regarding their child, a third party must be appointed to ensure the well being of the child.

The judge said at the heart of this matter was a little boy, C, aged 7. His parents were never married and they separated after being together for six years.

Since they had split-up – when the child was 18 months-old – he was the subject of numerous court battles. The mother mostly turned to court, it was said, in a bid to bar the father from having contact with the child.

She levelled numerous allegations against him – from sexually abusing the child to having “spanked” him.

During this protracted squabble, and allegations against the father, the little boy has been subjected to many assessments by a host of experts to ascertain whether there was merit to the mother's complaints.

While the mother has over the years retracted some of her allegations of sexual abuse against the father, in the latest turn of events she was again convinced that the child was being molested.

This time a criminal investigation is pending and the prosecuting authority must thereafter decide whether the father should face charges. Pending this, the mother has refused the father any contact with the child.

This has led to the present application.

The father has not seen the child since July last year and wants to have contact with the boy. He is also asking the court to order that the mother be assessed by a psychologist, who must compile a report on the aspect of child alienation and the well-being of the minor child while in the care of the mother.

While a variety of courts – from the high court to the children's court – have over the years issued orders ranging from supervised contact by the dad with the child, to sleepovers, the father said he had on occasion had to call in the help of the SAPS to enforce these orders.

Each time the mother made a new accusation against the father, such as that he had spanked the child, the father's contact with the child was the subject of yet another legal wrangle.

When the father was accused of spanking the child, a social worker was called in to investigate, but she could find no signs of physical abuse or that the child was fearful of the father.

When the mother accused the father of sexually abusing the child, the Teddy Bear Clinic investigated and released a report in this regard. No signs of sexual abuse were found.





African News Agency