Father’s quest to trace son abroad

2012-01-24 00:00

A FATHER whose ex-wife had forged his signature on a passport to leave the country with their young son in 2008, has renewed his desperate quest to locate the child through the Pietermaritzburg high court.

None of the parties involved in the application can legally be named because the case revolves around a custody battle.

The child’s father, an engineer, is currently living in Johannesburg.

He said in court papers all attempts by him to discover the whereabouts of his son, now eight, and his former wife, whom he married in terms of Hindu rites on December 7, 2002, have failed.

These attempts have included applications to the high court, the Foreign Affairs Department , the SA Police Services and the Missing Persons Bureau.

The woman’s family, who reside in Pietermaritzburg, allegedly told him and police that she has not contacted them since leaving the country with the boy and they do not have any idea where she is.

The man alleges that the child’s mother forged his signature on an application for a passport for the little boy prior to her departure on November 17, 2008 and says it became apparent she had “carefully planned her exit” from South Africa with his son.

Given the lapse of time, however, the child’s passport will soon expire and it is likely she will have to apply to the Department of Home Affairs for a new one for him, he said.

“I am extremely concerned ... and should the passport be renewed or reissued I may not see or know anything about [him] for yet a further unbearable period of time,” he said.

The man is asking the high court to interdict the Department of Home Affairs, director-general of Home Affairs and minister for International Relations, from reissuing or renewing his son’s passport or any travel document and to compel the authorities to disclose to him (or to his attorney) any information they have about his son’s movements across South Africa’s borders.

He also wants them to disclose the current status of his son’s passport and restrain the department from approving any new application for a visa to any foreign country, as well as to notify him if the child returns to South Africa.

The man states in his affidavit he and his wife separated in 2004 — the year after the birth of their son on November 1, 2003.

He said he enjoyed a close bond with his son, but in 2006 his ex-wife began denying him access.

This ended in a high court application and he was granted access rights by the court.

He said when he went to fetch his son for a visit on November 21, 2008 neither his ex-wife nor the child could be found.

He again went to court on November 27, 2008 for an order to compel her to reveal the boy’s whereabouts and stop her taking him out of the country.

At the time her lawyers stated that she had already left South Africa, but he did not believe it as Home Affairs records showed the child was still in the country.

“The true position [as I discovered much later] was that she’d taken the child [out of the country] on November 17, 2008,” he said.

His wife subsequently sent an affidavit stating she’d taken the child to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on that date.

She also untruthfully claimed he had given consent, the father said. In fact he alleged she’d forged his signature on the passport application form.

The case has been postponed to January 31.


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