The Department of Social Welfare has taken into custody Kudakwashe Mahachi’s four-year-old son allegedly to ensure that the minor can give an independent testimony in criminal proceedings against his father.
Mahachi is facing criminal charges after the alleged scalding of his son while at his house in South Africa.
His ex-wife, the mother of the child, Maritha Ndlovu, has accused him of scalding their son with boiling water resulting in him suffering third-degree burns but Mahachi denies the charges.
Mahachi is expected to appear at the Western Commonage Magistrates Court on Wednesday for the criminal case.
Meanwhile, Ndlovu has since engaged lawyers, Coghlan and Welsh to challenge the removal of her son from her custody.
She also claims that the Department of Social Welfare is denying her access to the child.
Ndlovu’s lawyers argued that the State has failed to bring the minor child before the children’s court within seven days of such removal in terms of Section 17 of the Children’s Act.
The first respondent in the application is the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare with Mahachi being the second respondent. The application reads in part:
The first respondent has removed the minor child from the Applicant’s custody pending second respondent’s criminal investigation.
The grounds for removing the minor child from the Applicant’s custody are that they want the minor child to think independently so that he can give an independent testimony in a criminal matter which is pending against the second respondent and that the first respondent fears for the minor child’s safety in the custody and care of the Applicant.
The lawyers argued that the Social Welfare department did not give convincing reasons as to why it fears for the safety of the minor child.
They also noted that the department has failed, neglected or refused to take the child to Mpilo Hospital for his weekly reviews since removing him from his mother’s custody.
This, according to the lawyers, jeopardises the best interest of the child. Wrote the lawyers:
Additionally, since removing the minor child from the custody of the Applicant, on 29 June 2022, the first respondent has denied the applicant access to the minor child and has refused to furnish the applicant with the details of the minor child’s whereabouts.
It, therefore, follows that first respondent has neglected the child’s best interest which are paramount in every matter concerning the child.
The child is entitled to adequate protection by the court hence I am approaching this court as the upper guardian of children.
The circumstances under which the child was removed from my custody by the first respondent have no basis at law.
The conduct of the first respondent is therefore illegal.