Mother faces jail over child

2008-07-03 00:00

A young Pietermaritzburg mother will tomorrow face the prospect of periodical imprisonment if she again fails to comply with a court order to hand her 19-month-old son over to his father for the weekend.

In terms of an existing access order granted by the court, the child must spend alternate weekends from 9 am on Saturday to 5 pm on Sunday with his father.

The couple, married under Islamic rites, apparently separated before the baby’s birth.

The father has complained that his wife has repeatedly obstructed his right of access to their child.

In a letter the woman addressed to the judge and left with the registrar of the high court last Friday, she said she is opposed to the baby spending the night with his father at his “tender age”, as he is still partly breastfed.

A suitable age for an overnight stay recommended by experts, she said, is four years old.

She said that the child sleeps with her, and does not even stay overnight with her parents, to whom he is accustomed.

Acting Judge Barry Skinner yesterday sternly warned the young woman against ignoring another court order, and urged her and the child’s father to take into account the undoubted effect their acrimony is having on the baby.

Judge Skinner said the woman already has a suspended sentence (of 30 days’ imprisonment) hanging over her head, which he granted on June 13, also for contempt of court.

Judge Skinner granted a second urgent order last Friday in terms of which the woman had to show cause yesterday why she should not be found guilty of contempt of court (for denying the father access to the child as ordered by Judge Nic van der Reyden on February 1), and why she should not be sentenced to periodical imprisonment for a total of 960 hours on weekends when the father has access to the baby.

Oral evidence to finally decide this matter will be led in October.

In the meantime, Judge Skinner ordered that the mother is to bring her son to a specified neutral venue on alternate weekends — starting this Saturday — to hand over the baby to his father and to collect him again on the Sunday evening.

If she fails to comply, he ordered that she shall be arrested “forthwith” and kept in custody until 5 pm on Sunday while the baby’s father cares for the child.

He ordered the police to locate the mother and child if she does not turn up, to arrest her and deliver her to the New Hanover prison.

Her parents — who have also been accused of obstructive conduct and who allegedly refused to accept service of court papers on behalf of their daughter from the deputy sheriff — have been joined as respondents in the case.

Judge Skinner has granted an interim order against the couple, restraining them from in any way “aiding, abetting, instigating or encouraging” their daughter to contravene the court orders, or obstructing the baby’s father from exercising his right of access to the child.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.