Joburg mom who examined optimistic for Covid-19 in authorized battle for custody of her son

Johannesburg – A Johannesburg mother is battling the lawsuit of a lifetime after her two-year-old son was taken away for testing positive for Covid-19.

The Booysens District Court granted an application by the child’s father for temporary custody of the toddler. Even more amazing, the mother said, she had a protection order against her former partner that was issued in April.

From Friday, the parents share custody and the child spends a week with each of them.

Attorney William Booth warned that this ruling could set a very dangerous precedent. He added that many parents tested positive for Covid-19, but no children were taken out of their care.

Melanie Crawford, a psychologist, told Saturday Star she was her son’s sole breadwinner and primary carer, and that the Booysen’s Magistrates Court ruling had turned her life upside down.

“I haven’t seen my child for three weeks. I don’t know if he’s safe. I don’t know, ”said the desperate mother.

Crawford tested positive for Covid-19 three weeks ago. She has since had another test and is now clear.

“I went to court on Monday and showed the judge my negative test result, but he didn’t even take it into account. My son has to be with me. How did that happen? “Said Crawford.

According to the original court order: “The defendant should not have any contact with the child until the next court hearing, as the defendant tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.”

According to Crawford’s attorney, William Makau, there is no legal basis to justify the Booysen’s Magistrates Court’s decision.

His feelings are shared by Booth, who said: “It is highly unusual for such an order to be issued only because the mother is Covid positive and for no other reason, especially if she had custody. If the court has issued such a strange order, it must urgently appeal / review to the Supreme Court, which I am sure will succeed. “

Booth added that if a court is to encroach on a parent’s rights so drastically, it needs a full investigation by a social worker or medical person. Children are only withdrawn from their parents if it is found that they have been abused or neglected. The mother said there was no examination by a social worker or medical person.

Crawford said she ended an abusive relationship with the child’s father in 2019 and turned to family court for help regarding the protection and safety of her son.

“This has been a constant topic since 2019. The father had a supervised visitation right, and in the absence of expert reports or studies that prove the father’s suitability for the sole care of the child, the supervision was unilaterally lifted by the family court in March 2021, “she said.

Crawford said the only contact she received was two video calls a week.

“The court did not take into account that my child was already exposed to the virus through my presence, never had an overnight stay in the father’s house and that it was wrongly taken away from me without his cuddly toys, blankets and bottles. There was no check of where he would be or what condition he would be in, ”she added.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) said it cannot comment on any lawsuits pending in court, and if there is an aggrieved party as a result of the amended interim order, there is an appeal in the criminal justice system.

DSD spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant said on the grounds that the child had been taken out of the mother’s care because it had tested positive for the coronavirus: “Courts make decisions that are in the best interests of the child, like the court in the submitted Arrangement. The court allowed the mother to contact the child until the May 31 court hearing for the family attorney’s opinion. The court granted them joint custody after May 31st, which is a sign of fairness and decisions that are in the best interests of the child. “

Justice Department spokesman Crispin Phiri said, when asked if there is a legal basis to remove a child if one of the parents tests positive for Covid-19, “The ministry does not comment on cases of people in court. “

Crawford said this was the longest time she has been apart from her son.

“I can only imagine how confused and desperate my little boy is and how damaging that must be to his wellbeing. I will never give up my son and keep fighting until justice is done and my boy is taken back into my care.

“My attorneys, Radasi Sekgatja Incorporated Attorneys, and I continue our fight; May justice be done, ”she concluded.

Saturday Star was unable to reach out to the child’s father for comment. The matter will be heard again on June 24th.

The Saturday star

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