From the news desk

Maintenence defaulters: no place to hide

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Around six women from different areas on the cape flats, financially crippled by their ex-husbands who failed to pay maintenance for decades, received cheques from R200 to R180 000 on Wednesday. The hand-over was conducted during a briefing session by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJCD) to the community of Mitchell’s Plain where a specific focus was put on the Operation Isondlo Campaign 2015. The operation aims to locate untraced maintenance beneficiaries, trace and arrest alleged maintenance defaulters for whom warrants of arrest had been issued.

On Wednesday, the DCOD briefed the community on the successes of the Isondlo operation. According to the department’s Advocate Hishaam Mohammed, not many maintenance beneficiaries understand the importance of updating their details at the courts, therefore, money either lay dormant or defaulters are not brought to book. Either way, Mohammed believes it is the children who suffer the consequences.

“This operation is active and working throughout the year. We even have a special police task team that co-ordinates activities or go out to the communities and sought out those defaulters whom have been issued a warrant of arrest,” Mohammed explained.

At the briefing, the maintenance beneficiaries ranging from different ages said that for years, they have been in and out of court hearings for ex-spouses who do not pay their maintenance. According to Mohamed, those defaulters are brought to book because they can afford to pay maintenance but have just refused to as they have not been held accountable by law in the past.

“We can only provide the law guidelines for those care givers who fail to fulfil their responsibilities to their children. I have been out in the communities and spoke to many children who are cannot complete their education due to a lack of financial assistance from their care givers. You see them often falling prey to gangsterism or drugs,” Mohammed added.

Mercia Adonis, a mother of six children says that for eight years she and her ex-husband have been separated. However, before the separation, Adonis was a victim of domestic abuse. Now, she received a R200 from the father of her children.

“I am really happy that the department is focussing efforts to help us mothers who are in need of maintenance. While it is only R200, this money is definitely needed. I live with my mother who is really old now and we often go through tough times with little support,” Adonis said shyly.

Thirty-seven year old Samantha Hope received a cheque for just over R290 000. Through the efforts of the CJOCD, the court managed to freeze the pension funds of maintenance defaulters and granted beneficiaries money owed to them for years of simply relying on welfare.

Areas such as Phillipi, Mitchells Plain, Belville and Wynberg are among the top listed for the most defaulters. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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  1. We have a brilliant Childrens Miantenance ACT but no implementation or follow through from our Maintenance Officers (MO). Parents are bringing up children fighting a system , not fighting WITH the system .I know a mom who for eight years has struggled in the Knysna area and the wealthy father is ordered to pay one hundred and eighty rand only…. what a joke! and he doesnt pay it. It costs the mother money for legal representation and in the last eight yrs there has been no arrests, no maintenance arrears , no fine and the father provided the MO with poor bank statements yet he works for his very affluent family, AND drives a new car. How do we change this? how do we go forward? How can this same man who has paid IN TOTAL maybe five months school fees of this twelve yr ols child have fifty percent rights on education?? How can this father who has NEVER paid a medical have rights on medical decisions ? how can this father who has been high court ordered due to his drug problem of over thirty five yrs to only see his child with Psychologist for 2hours a month ,still have Rights regarding mental and emotional care?? Yes maintenance and Access are two different things….. but it should run alonside each other. This same mom could qualify for legal aid but because she lives with her partner , her partners salary effects this and she cannot have legal aid representation……yet her partner has NO RIGHTS over her child. Shockingly the father qualified for legal aid with his dodgy bank statments and gets away with it. Always hiding behind his well know family.This is just one case of a few mom we personally know with very similar stuations, wealthy influencial familes and the "weaker"parent is worn down, financially and emotionally exhausted. this is NOT FAIR!!!!

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