Mother weeps for joy

2011-02-24 00:00

THE girlfriend of murder accused Morne Croeser wept for joy yesterday when a judge ordered that her children be returned to her custody.

The two boys, aged five and two years, were removed urgently on February 14 and their paternal grandparents granted interim custody after alleging they feared their grandsons were in “extreme danger” following Croeser’s release on bail.

He is charged with murdering his wife, Erika, by stabbing her 14 times on August 28 last year.

In papers before Acting Judge Yoga Moodley yesterday, Croeser and his lover denied he ever threatened to kill his girlfriend’s children if he caught her cheating on him.

The woman also denied telling a friend last October she would kill herself and her ex-husband if Croeser was arrested, but admitted she’d sent text messages threatening to kill them if “things got too bad”.

At the time she was “extremely distraught and traumatised” after being interrogated for seven hours by police in connection with the murder of Croeser’s wife, she said.

She claimed her ex-husband and his father were instrumental in alleging to police that she was implicated in the murder of Croeser’s wife.

“What is significant is that I have never threatened to kill my children,” she said.

She alleged that her ex-husband and his father have repeatedly threatened to take away her children from her and claimed the urgent application was meant to “punish” her for her affair with Croeser.

Her ex-husband is allowed “supervised contact” with their children in terms of the divorce order, but lives with his parents, who had obtained interim custody.

The judge said without hearing oral evidence as well as evidence of psychologists and social workers, it was not possible for the court to “give a firm answer” to the concerns raised by both sides in the dispute.

He stressed that his ruling in favour of the children being returned to their mother — pending an inquiry and report by the family advocate — was not a finding that the grandparents brought the application out of vindictiveness.

In reaching his decision he had regard to the close bonds that young children form with their mothers, and the fact that throughout the acrimonious divorce and applications and counter applications she was always regarded as the most suitable primary caregiver.

She had denied that she did not take her medication (for her bipolar condition) as prescribed and a doctor’s report indicated that though anxious she was “coping well”.

The judge said he had grave difficulty trying to fathom how an incident on January 30 when the woman allegedly threw some ornaments at her ex-husband could spark a belief that she was “heading for a major depressive episode”.

The couple’s relationship was clearly acrimonious and must have involved other violent outbursts.

The judge also noted the threat to kill herself and her ex-husband, was not directed at the children nor did the grandparents try to get custody of the children then.

He also questioned why, if they genuinely believed Croeser was a threat to the children, they took no immediate action on learning about his alleged threat on January 30.

They also did not act when Croeser was alleged to have assaulted their grandson four months ago, which he denies.

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