Mothers, who congregated in front of the Broadhurst and Village Magistrate Courts on Wednesday, hoping to collect maintenance money for their children, accused the Family Courts in the city of being toothless as they fail to enforce payment of maintenance as ordered by the Courts.
One of them, a young woman who only preferred to be called Masego, said that for the last four months she had been going to the Court hoping to collect maintenance money but she came back empty handed every time because the money had not been paid.
She said that the Court officials always just say, “Mma, it seems he has not paid; come and check again next time.”
Masego complained about the way they are addressed saying it showed lack of concern by the officers, adding that it always becomes obvious to her that no action will be taken against the culprit.
”At such times, I even feel that I have wasted my time and money going to the Court,” she said.
Another lady, who preferred to be called Catherine, said that what angers her most of the times is that the officers who are supposed to help them behave as though their presence inconveniences them in their offices. Like Masego, she said it was obvious that going to those offices is just a waste of their time.
”Every time I think of going there, I just feel annoyed because I already know that I will not find the money and that the officers will be of little help to me,” she said.
On what they think should be done with those who fail to pay up the maintenance money, Catherine said the best solution would be for such cases to be heard in the traditional kgotlas because “there is more law and order in kgotlas than in the Magistrate Courts.”
“In the traditional kgotlas,” she said, “if a person fails to carry out orders, stern action, like flogging, is taken whilst such is not the case in the Magistrate Courts.”
Masego chipped in again and said that she heard that in some countries such people are even sentenced to a jail term and are made to pay ‘after spending some days in the cooler.’
”This I think should also be considered,” she said.
Catherine, on the other hand, suggested that if a father continues to default in paying maintenance, deputy sheriffs be sent after them.
The Councils, she said, are already doing that against people who fail to pay up their Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) loans, adding that she did not see the reason why this can not be done to the “irresponsible fathers”.
Attempts to talk to magistrate Imafon Akpabio of Gaborone’s Family Courts were fruitless as she was continuously reported to be in Court.