Minister 'interferes' in custody dispute

2013-02-08 10:00
Minister Lulu Xingwana (File)

Minister Lulu Xingwana (File)

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East London - Minister of Women, Children and People with Disability Lulu Xingwana has been accused of using her position to forcibly remove her nephew's 2-year-old daughter from her mother, the Daily Dispatch reported on Friday.

The toddler's parents had been entwined in a custody battle.

The mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, claimed she and other relatives were manhandled by Xingwana's bodyguards.

'Best interest of the child'

However, Xingwana, through her spokesperson Cornelius Monama, this week denied the allegations.

“The court found it was in the best interest of the child to be taken to Pretoria by her father where she would continue with her early childhood development,” Monama said in an e-mail.

"The minister was there [in court] to support a relative.

“There is nothing wrong for the minister to be accompanied by her protectors.

“The minister and her family believe the law needs to take its course,” Monama said, criticising the Dispatch for “sensationalising” the story.

According to the mother, the case was set down to be heard in the Eastern Cape High Court in Mthatha last Friday. She did not attend after her lawyer reportedly told her he would ask for a postponement.

Court order

However, a provisional order was granted that the child be taken to Pretoria immediately and placed into the custody of the father.

The mother was also ordered to give reasons why the order should not be granted before 1 March.

The report added that Xingwana's entourage had arrived at the mother's Upper Ngqwarha home in a state vehicle accompanied by the child’s father, another relative, three police officers and two bodyguards.

A social worker told the newspaper that it was important that proper procedures were followed in custody disputes, and that both the parent and child are counselled before the change.

Read more on:    lulu xingwana  |  east london

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