Maun Magistrate Phandiwe Taka has warned that men should refrain from taking advantage of the diverse cultures practiced in Ngamiland which allow them to adopt their children even when they are not married to their mothers. She said many at times, there had been incidents whereby men choose to adopt their children with the excuse that they (children) will be better taken care of under the custody of their male parents. This practice is commonly carried out when a man is about to get married and wishes for his children born out of wedlock to bear his surname, and also for them to be better placed when it comes to issues that do with inheritance.
Taka said while the existence of cultures should be respected, there is need for people to understand and take notice of children’s rights and what is entailed in the Children’s Act, citing that failure to comply with the two is an offence which has critical consequences. She advised that consenting mothers and fathers willing for the adoption to take place should make a sworn statement at the District Commissioners office so that there could be a better understanding between the two parties. Nevertheless she said even with this arrangement in place, the courts will still demand that monthly payments be made, failure at which defaulters might be further charged or risk to be remanded in prison.
“Magistrate courts do recognize customary adoption. However this does not mean child maintenance should be discontinued because we take it as the day to day support of the child. People need not confuse the change of surname to be adoption because these are two different things.”
Sharing the same sentiments was Principal Social Welfare Officer at Maun Administrative Authority Keidigetse Mhapa who said there is need for a deeper understanding and differentiation of paying for damages after a man would have impregnated a woman and child maintenance. He said soon after the customary adoption would have taken place, the clerk of court always issues an order specifying that appropriate process has taken place.
With common law adoption, he said applications should be made at the magistrate court and that social workers are always expected to carry out relevant assessments, after which the affidavit should also be signed before the magistrate makes confirmation of such an adoption