“I am not the Father. I want the money I paid for 10 months in maintenance back”
It is a common Setswana saying that only a woman knows for sure who the father of her child is.
This saying was proved right last week at Francistown Magistrate Courts, when a suspicious man from Tutume, exposed and shamed a 31- year old mother who had deceived him into financially supporting a child that she knew was not his for two years.
Finding refuge and solace in rural environs of the cattle post, deep in the salt pans of Sua pans, the deceitful mother was nowhere near the court when DNA test results were read out in court, most likely out of fear and shame that her secret was now out in the open.
The man’s nightmare started last year in March, when he was summoned to court for not looking after his offspring who at that time was a few months old.
“I never knew I had a child with her. I got to know about it through the courts. No word was sent to my parents that I had impregnated her as per tradition”, said the low-ranking army officer who begged for anonymity in order to protect his career.
“I am a government employee and in the army they put much emphasis on discipline so they scrutinize our files a lot. If my name appears in newspapers, it will spoil my chances of promotion,” said the 35 –year- old army officer.
“I don’t deny having an affair with her, but it was just for fun. Nothing serious. So when she told me that she was pregnant and the child was mine, I couldn’t believe it. During the two years that she was my mistress, she had other partners besides me. There were times when I would clash with her other boyfriends at her house”, he explained.
Grudgingly for 10 months, the military man paid a monthly sum of P700 towards the upkeep of the child he never accepted as his.
“I complied with the court order and paid, but I knew it was a set up. I asked many questions, and realized that because I have a steady income, my ex girlfriend found me to be easy prey”, he explained.
“ I had to find a way out so I started saving money for a paternity test.”
Two days after Christmas, the three went to a private medical laboratory in Francistown for the life- changing test.
“I parted with P 4 500. DNA doesn’t come cheap! Blood specimens were collected from all three of us. After two weeks, the results declared that I was not the father of the little boy”, continued the ZCC badge clad man
His entanglement with the 31-year-old woman not only cost him cash but created a myriad of problems for him as well.
“I had to come clean with my fiancé; whom I have two kids with. I told her the whole truth. I begged her to forgive me for cheating on her. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing her after 10 years of being together”, he confessed.
With his legal woes won, the Francistown based soldier wanted Magistrate Kavero Kapeko to order the unemployed 31-year-old mother to repay all the maintenance money she had cunningly cashed in and the costs of the DNA.
A request which Kapeko turned down.
“I advise you to make an application to the clerk of court to make a variation on your matter, in case the other party rebuts. I cannot order that she repays you the cash you spent and paid as maintenance to her”, indicated the Magistrate.
“Make a separate application to the court,” The magistrate advised
Outside the courtroom, the soldier admitted he had learnt his lesson the hard way and would therefore never take such a risk again.
“I thought I was hiding. Stealing and never thought I would be caught. Now look at where I ended up. In court!”
“I advise men to stick to one woman. I have learnt that women are snakes, crooks and good at pretending. I believe more than 100 per cent that there are many men out there who are paying maintenance for children who are not theirs”, he said
“This is a fact! Men are paying maintenance because they are afraid of paying for DNA tests or to stay out of prison.” Even though he was lied to, the father of two says he is not a bitter man. All he wants is for his former lover to repay him every thebe.
“Because I used money which I was not supposed to have used. I want my money back. All of it.”
One thing still bothers him though and makes him to lose sleep. His eyes piercing into the mid-morning light.
“I am asking myself what if the complainant fails to pay me? I need the cash. If she is taken to jail what will it benefit me? I would have lost big time. Government should pay me, then she goes to prison,” he suggests.
Although happy with the court’s decision, the heavily built man with well-toned muscles, is of the opinion that courts should be equipped with DNA testing machines to verify if indeed the men being prosecuted are indeed the biological fathers before they could be ordered to pay maintenance.
“Just think of the trauma that other men out there who don’t have money for DNA tests have to go through.” Said the soldier before dashing ending the interview.