She's home at last!

By admin
17 December 2010

She looks pretty in her special dress with matching bag but at first Kayla* is shy in front of the strangers who have come to visit her and her father. She soon relaxes though and peeps at us as she clambers onto her dad’s lap.

For three years Kayla (4) believed her dad was dead – that’s what her grandmother told her when she was living with her in Keimoes in the Northern Cape.

Her father, Johan* (38), a training officer at the prison in Paarl, has been through a tough four-year battle to get custody of his daughter.

Kayla’s mother, Bianca*, died of heart problems two months after the little girl was born early in 2006, Bianca and Johan were living together in Paarl and were about to get married when tragedy struck.

As if his wife’s death wasn’t devastating enough Johan then lost his daughter soon afterwards. It felt as though his world had fallen apart, he says.

Just before Bianca’s funeral her mother, Louise*, packed the two-month-old  baby’s clothes and spirited her off to Keimoes.

After a three-year court battle Kayla moved in with Johan and his new wife, Liezel*, in July last year. But their joy was short-lived: four months later Kayla’s maternal grandparents were granted a court interdict ruling Kayla had to return to Keimoes.

Johan turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, which returned Kayla to him in November.

In a breakthrough test case the court decided unmarried fathers automatically have full parental rights and responsibilities if they meet certain requirements, and that maternal grandparents don’t take precedence over unmarried fathers.

“I’m so glad the nightmare is over,” Johan says. “I can’t believe she could do such a thing. How can you take someone’s child out of their home and raise her as your own when you know perfectly well she isn’t yours?”

Read the full story in YOU, 23 December 2010.

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