MAN SEEKS TO AVOID PAYING BABY MAMA DAMAGES
A man ordered to pay eight cattle or P20, 000 for impregnating and then dumping his baby mama could find relief through the Customary Court of Appeal.
Although the verdict on the matter is yet to be finalised, Tankiso Jankobe emerged from Monday’s court appearance in Molepolole with a huge smile on his face.
This was after a panel of Dikgosi (chiefs) indicated he would not be punished for his former girlfriend, Moleti Rebatenne’s pregnancy.
The Dikgosis’ contention was that since Moleti already had a child with another man before Jankobe impregnated her, her family cannot claim for damages.
“The calabash was already broken!” noted Kgosi Mothibe Linchwe, who pointed out that according to Setswana culture, a woman or girl’s family cannot make claims for damages for any pregnancy other than the first one.
“The person who entered your house, found it clean and spoiled it, is the one to pay for damages. Let’s not forget our Setswana ways. It is important that we follow our cultural practices,” advised Linchwe.
The matter, which was heard before Kgosi Linchwe, Kgosi Kgabosetso Mosielele and Kgosi Sedie, was an appeal case brought forward by Jankobe of Khakhea village.
He was appealing against a recent Thamaga Customary Court ruling, in which he was ordered to pay damages for impregnating Oratile Rebatenne’s niece, Moleti.
In his appeal, Jankobe argued it was unfair to be charged when he found the woman already ‘damaged’ because she was with another child.
He therefore asked the court to reduce the fine.
The uncle, Oratile, who appeared on behalf of the baby mama’s family, maintained that Jankobe must pay because it took him approximately three years to claim responsibility for the pregnancy.
“I spent a lot chasing after this man. He refused to meet me and refused to give his parents a reply. It was just recently that he sent his parents with a reply, owning up to the pregnancy and offering to compensate us with three cows.
“When we asked for a follow up meeting with his uncles, they told us they were busy preparing for his marriage (to a different woman). That showed disrespect,” insisted the 82-year-old Oratile, who further accused Jankobe of neglecting his child.
However, Kgosi Mosielele contended it would be wrong to charge Jankobe.
“You may end up using her to trap men with pregnancy so you can gain from ‘damages’,” Mosielele told the old man.
Instead, the chiefs recommended Moleti seek redress through the Magistrate court on the issue of child maintenance.
When asked if the father of Moleti’s first child had paid damages, Oratile replied simply but sadly, “The man was not charged because he could not be found.”
One of the arguements against the cultural practice is that the damages often benefit the baby mama’s parents more than the mother and her baby.
Indeed, human rights lawyer, Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi Law Firm, opined that the culture is old fashioned and needs to be revised.
“It benefits grandparents not the child and it does not exonerate the father of the child from paying child maintenance.
“The punishment is harsh because it cannot be used as defence in child maintenance court. My view is that this is an unfair practice. Parents have to maintain their children as required by the Children’s Act,” stated Ndadi.
Judgment on the matter is due 29 August at Molepolole main kgotla.