A young mother fighting for custody of her six-year-old son in Blantyre, recently spent five days in a police cell for abducting her child.
Alice Njala, 28, told Nation on Sunday that she felt powerless that she could not be allowed access to a child she bore with soccer players’ agent Felix Sapao.
But Sapao, in a separate interview, dismissed Njala’s claims, arguing there are modalities that have to be put in place first by lawyers from both sides to enable the mother see her son.
Nation on Sunday has learnt that the boy was taken away from the mother when he was two years old after the matter was brought before the Soche Child Justice Court for mediation which gave custody of the boy to the father given his better economic status.
Sapao, after the court matter four years ago, left the boy with a family in Chapima Heights, Blantyre’s Chirimba Township.
Njala claims the decision to deny her custody of the child on the basis that she was not economically sound, was unfair; hence, she was forced last October to abduct her own son from school.
Njala was arrested and locked up at Blantyre Police Station for five days where she was charged with abduction.
The matter, however, was taken up by the Soche Child Justice Court which, according to records, advised her to always seek permission from Sapao’s lawyer whenever she wants to see her son.
Court records also show that an earlier decision to give the father custody of the child was not a court’s decision, but a consent the mother and father of the child entered into and signed for.
Nation on Sunday established that the court gave the two parties a leeway that should they find the consent not favourable on either side, each party was at liberty to return to the court to have it varied.
But Njala claimed in an interview last week that she did not understand what she was signing for because she had no lawyer.
After the October arrest, the Soche Child Justice Court ordered Njala to return the child, an order she complied with.
Sapao, in an interview on Thursday, said Njala was not being prevented from seeing her son.
“She will be able to see her son, but things delayed because I was away,”he said
A Mrs. Mhango, whose family is keeping the child, claimed in an interview that Njala could not take care of the child.
“I am Felix’s [Sapao] aunt and he chose to take the boy to my home and we accepted it,” she said.
The Civil Liberties Committee (Cilic), where Njala lodged her complaint, said they would have summoned Sapao but were in dilemma because the matter went to court.
Cilic’s programme officer Felix Chikalira said Section 23 of the Constitution is clear that all children have the right to know and to be raised by their parents.
Chikalira said the Constitution also provides that all children shall have the right to a given name and a family name and the right to a nationality.
He said the change of name is likely an infringement of the boy’s right to a name.
Chikalira appealed to both parties to be responsible and act according to the law and protect the boy’s interests. n