Deadbeat dads

2019-02-12 16:08


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I recently lost someone I thought was one of my smart friends, over his stupidity. No, he didn’t die, we had a fight and had to part ways because I couldn’t stand by and not say anything about his foolishness.

The disagreement came after I bumped into his baby mama, whom he impregnated a few years back. We started chatting and I asked how the “bundle of joy” was doing since I had not seen either of them since 2017. She told me that my friend is not supporting his child and showed me a string of text messages she had sent him over the years, to which he did not respond.

What really got to me was the fact that his mother occasionally took some of her pension money and sent it to his child, yet he holds down a very well-paid job in government. He drives an SUV that costs close to half a million rand and he recently paid lobola for his bride-to-be but somehow he had made it okay for himself not to pay papgeld.

I confronted him about the matter and said he should be ashamed of himself for not honouring his responsibility and making his mom cover his debts. What ended our friendship was his nonchalant attitude about the whole thing.

He said the mother of his child also has a good job so it’s not like his child is starving. He basically said whatever his mother does is out of the goodness of her heart and as a grandmother she can do whatever she wants for her grandkids. There were a few explicit words exchanged but I will spare you those details. After this happened I realised that my former friend should actually get on his knees and thank the gods that I’m not the mother of his child because I would torment him to his coffin.

Now I’m not one to advocate violence but there is nothing that makes me reach quicker for my non-existent rifle than fathers who think they should not support their offspring.

Let’s get this straight; you never had the right to play the sperm donor card because the sex was consensual.

Men are famous for excuses but just because the condom burst or “she tricked you into having unprotected sex”, does not relieve you of your responsibilities to that child. Oh, and my personal favourite, “the baby mama is crazy”, can never be used as a reason to neglect your child. I know there are some women who are tired of chasing after men who refuse to pay child maintenance. Some just don’t want to deal with the hassle of going to court. Others think their children are better off without their “useless” fathers, and then there are those who think that because they can afford to raise their children on their own, they shouldn’t bother chasing after the deadbeats.

I’m of the view that there is no justifiable reason to let a man get away with not paying maintenance. If anyone ever did that to me I’d make them regret it before I was even halfway through my 10-point plan of killing the deadbeat dad. Deadbeat dads should not only be taken to court but should be publicly named and shamed. We often see crowds picketing outside the courts when cases of rape, murder or involving politicians are being heard. I think it’s time to get communities and non-profit organisations coming out in their numbers to support mothers when they take fathers to the maintenance court.

One thing I know about some social workers is that they can’t resist the idea of publicly embarrassing a parent who can afford it but leaves his or her child to be a burden of the state. They will drag you to their offices before you can even attempt to ask for the mother’s bank account number and I don’t know how they manage to do this, but the maintenance cases always get court dates within a few weeks.

We keep focusing on HIV/Aids, crime and poverty as social ills but I think as a country we have a serious problem of fathers who don’t want to support their children.

According to Stats SA’s August 2018 report, South Africa has one of the highest rates of absent fathers in sub-Saharan Africa and according to released figures, of 897 750 registered births in the country in 2017, 62% had no father’s details.

In her remarks in Parliament last year, deputy minister of Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said it has become fashionable for men to outsource their responsibility to care and support their own children, to the government by simply registering their children for social grants.

She said the government can only do so much to support vulnerable children and cannot replace the fathers’ responsibilities towards their own children.

“The phenomenon of absent and ATM fathers has unfortunately become a rule rather than an exception in our society. We call on this National Men’s Parliament to confront gender stereotypes and to reinforce messages that encourage fathers to take active roles in their own children’s lives,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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