Saturday, June 15, 2024

Three-year old at centre of ugly battle

There would definitely have been a time when the couple had boundless fun but that would have ended around the time that a child (and another woman) came along – or so the mother says in her affidavit. “[He] constantly states that he prefers me when I was drinking and smoking; he says that I’m boring. When I remind him that God and our child changed me, he brushes me off saying that he will change me back to the way I used to be,” the mother’s alleges in court papers of a case before the Village Magistrate Court. “He” is a Bulgarian man who swept this Motswana woman off her feet some years back and judging by what she alleges, when he set her back down, it was not with tender loving care. At this point the woman had given a boy and another woman was in the picture.

The father doesn’t get as much access to the child as he would want and has asked the court to grant him alternating weekends as well as school and public holiday visitation rights. The woman is contesting such application, charging that he engages in an objectionable range of behaviours that she enumerates in her affidavit. She describes him as “an unashamed drug addict, alcoholic and substance abuser.” He reportedly drinks “to the pointing of vomiting”, takes a short breather then “resumes the drinking again whilst balancing it all with cocaine etc.” At one point he told her that “he went on a cocaine binge with his drug dealer friend and that it was actually healthy because it had a high amount of caffeine so it cleansed his system.” When he has transported mother and child by car, the man is alleged to have “driven too fast, refusing to decrease the speed to the legal and safe limit and increased the volume [of the car stereo] to inappropriate music for our child.”

Aside from his reported problems with drugs, the man is also “constantly abusing Indians as peasants, black men as monnas in a derogatory fashion and saying how can we allow the peasants to take over our economy.” Although the relationship has long ended, the woman claims that when the man comes to her house, he often hustles her for casual sex in the presence of the little boy, who, at almost four years, is internalising language and able to have interactive dialogue. The one other lewd conduct alleged on his part is showing the child a picture of a naked woman. As a result of the latter, “my child constantly talks about women’s posteriors and I always wonder whether his father was the cause.”

The man is also supposed to have posted pictures of mother and son on Facebook against the former’s wishes, setting off a barrage of attacks from strangers. One footnote detail of this tale will turn the stomachs of the squeamish. The couple went to a restaurant and in exercising his consumer rights (this is the woman’s version), the man may have got a bit too mean with a waiter who sulked off to the kitchen and minutes later, returned with what turned out to be a contaminated food order. As the woman transported a piece of salad tomato to her mouth with a fork, she noticed a glistening thread of saliva unspooling from the food.

Upon close inspection of the food, the pair (they had decoupled at this point) discovered that the child’s had also been spat into. The man’s claim is that the woman was “rude and arrogant to the waiters and that is why they spat in her food and my son’s and not mine.” The one other trip that the trio took together was to a nursery school. Over the mother’s objections, the father reportedly told the child that he shouldn’t listen to teachers because “[I] never did and “look at [me, I’m] just fine.” The mother takes as punitive a view of her ex-lover’s mother, who teaches at an elite private school in Gaborone. The latter has a pet cat named Julius Malema and her emotional attachment to it is such that she shares a bed with it and also allows it sleep on the couch.

The mother’s fear is that Julius Malema’s fur could set off an asthmatic attack in her son. The grandmother warrants this uncharitable mention because she has deposed to an affidavit in support of her son’s case. From her own telling, the latter mounted a costly united-nations operation in which she mobilised resources from four countries – and across two continents, to provide for both mother and child. The mother underwent an operation at a hospital in Mafikeng and a second (Caesarean section) at Bokamoso Private Hospital in Gaborone when she gave birth. Thereafter grandma says that she engaged the services of two paediatricians, the first a Bulgarian soon after the child was born and later a Congolese one to monitor the child’s growth and administer vaccines.

Grandmother and father characterise the mother as something of a Bible-thumping churchaholic who spends “her entire time watching Emmanuel TV. Further she has even gone to Nigeria without consulting me with my son.” The man (a self-confessed “anti-Christ”) is apparently not too happy with the woman’s new-found devotion to religion once told her that he wishes she would be hit by a bus on her way to a popular church in Kopong that is thronged by thousands of worshippers from Gaborone and surrounding villages.

The man denies all these allegations, stating with regard to the main one: “I have never and would never use cocaine. She is vehemently telling the courts untruths about me to tarnish my image as a responsible father which I am.” He concedes having put the child’s picture on Facebook because he believes that “I have a right to as he is my son.” He contests the woman’s assertion that pets (this would include Julius Malema) would cause his son to have an asthmatic attack because “there is no medical proof” that such happens.

The man professes deep love for his son and says he wants to contribute to his upbringing and wants to ensure that he has a “balanced life” by being present in it. He faults the mother for wanting to limit his contribution only to money “which I have perennially provided.” He says that the woman has not been “gainfully employed” for as long as he has known her and that she never took him up on his advice that she should open a tuckshop to help with the child’s upkeep.

In her supporting affidavit, the grandmother backs up the claim about the money-only contribution by suggesting that the mother has commercialised access to the child. “I bought a baby cot, a pram, a second pram, a feeding chair. Not to mention all the baby clothes, toys and little baby stuff which is a source of joy in each family but [to mother] it was a source of sorrow as she never used them, sold the pram, was returning my purchases back to the shops and never allowed [child] to play with the toys I brought to him from Bulgaria.

2011 I bought [mother] a pair of 18 carat gold earrings I never seen afterwards. Despite her unfriendly attitude towards [father] and me I kept on taking her and baby out. Buying groceries, paying bills and at restaurants at coffee shops until we reached a stage where if I wanted to see my grandson for an hour, I had to budget P500-600 so that she can eat at a restaurant and do shopping with the rest of the money,” says the grandmother in her affidavit. It particularly irked her that she was introduced to her grandson as “aunty”. She was the one, she says, who sponsored the mother’s trip to Nigeria, giving her P3500 which was “all my available cash”.

In terms of a court order issued in April this year, a Gaborone City Council social worker has been commissioned to investigate whether the father is fit enough to be allowed unrestricted access to the child. Such task is to be undertaken by way of interviewing the parents of both the man and the woman as well as health professionals. Pending the final determination of the matter, the man has been granted permission to visit the child by arrangement, and in the mother’s presence, twice a month on either a Saturday or Sunday. The man is represented by Patricia Corentin while the woman is representing herself.

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