As Women’s Month enters its second week, one Cape Town woman is hoping the extra focus will help in her efforts to track down her former husband, who owes thousands in maintenance for their 21-month-old daughter.
Hishaam Mohamed, provincial head of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, has said his department will launch an Access to Justice Week from August 22, which will see “lawyers descend on the courts” to help address the maintenance backlog.
There are three arrest warrants for the woman’s ex-husband, who has missed court appearances and owes about R8 000 in outstanding maintenance.
The 34-year-old woman, who did not want to be named, works part-time as a receptionist in Table View while studying for a law degree.
Her employer said he had been helping her with medical bills for the child, who suffers from a chronic skin disorder.
The woman’s employer showed the Cape Argus medical bills of R450 for consultations and R590 for prescriptions which he said he paid because he did not want to see the child suffer just because her mother did not have medical aid.
“Her whole body (the child’s) is covered with sores and her mother has to juggle her way between court appearances, work, her studying and raising her two kids,” said the employer.
The woman said her ex-husband moved around a lot because his work involved a lot of travelling, and he could not be tracked down to a single residential address.
“When we divorced we agreed to cut the medical bills in half, but he went back on the agreement and said he only wanted to pay R400 a month, provided he does not have to pay the arrears he owes from the last two years.”
Melanie Kuhn, spokeswoman for Social Development MEC Albert Fritz, said there was a toll-free number that people could call to share information “of either the whereabouts of maintenance defaulters, or recipients of unclaimed money being held at the various courts”.
Mohamed said that when the person involved was a repeat defaulter, a copy of the warrant would be sent to the metro police in a bid to catch him at a roadblock. He confirmed that warrants has been sent in the woman’s case.
Any such person caught at a roadblock would be arrested and transferred to the police station where the warrant was issued.
Kuhn said her department had also been conducting information sessions across the province, “where we are empowering women with the necessary information of what their children’s rights are, where they need to go to claim their maintenance, what the challenges are, and how to overcome them”.
l The toll-free number for information on the whereabouts of maintenance defaulters is 0800 220 250