Blantyre-based Child Justice magistrate Esmie Tembenu said in an interview on Tuesday single mothers have been flooding her home to seek assistance.
Said Tembenu: â€œFor four months now, some irresponsible fathers have not maintained their children. We stopped working on December 22  for Christmas holiday and when we were supposed to open on January 9 this year, the strike started.
â€œSome mothers have come here with babies, complaining that they have not received anything from the fathers of their children. Other children have literally failed to go to school due to lack of fees. This is cruel and despicable.â€
The magistrate said court orders on child maintenance cases require support staff to enforce.
Offenders can be punished
â€œI must warn these irresponsible fathers that the Child Care Protection and Justice Act was enacted in July 2010 and was operational as of October last year. These defaulters can be punished by this Act.
â€œFirst offenders can be ordered to pay the arrears, but second offenders can be punished by imprisonment. These men should know they are creating problems for themselves because when the courts open, they will be required to pay in arrears and they will find it tough,â€ said Tembenu.
She said failure to pay the child maintenance would also be construed as contempt of court.
A human rights activist, Unandi Banda of National Elections Systems Trust (Nest), said in an interview failure or deliberate default by some fathers to pay child maintenance would impact negatively on the child development.
The activist also warned the fathers against breaking the law, arguing court orders have to be enforced to maintain their children.