‘I am fear­ing for my life’

CityPress - - News -

Nico Baden­horst and Lenette Mary Ma­ree re­mem­ber the day Harber’s or­gan­i­sa­tion took away their two-week-old daugh­ter about two years ago.

Baden­horst (29) and Ma­ree (40) said Harber took the child on Novem­ber 28 2015 from a woman they had hired to look af­ter her at night be­cause they “did not have elec­tric­ity”. The cou­ple wasn’t at home at the time.

“We were go­ing through a tough time like any other family does at some point in life,” Baden­horst said.

“Lenette and I were liv­ing in one small room with no elec­tric­ity and I did not want my child to grow up in that hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment; hence, there was a lady who took care of her at night.

“There are many poor fam­i­lies, par­tic­u­larly in South Africa’s town­ships and ru­ral ar­eas, but you never see par­ents be­ing sep­a­rated from their chil­dren sim­ply be­cause they are strug­gling fi­nan­cially,” he said.

A tear­ful Ma­ree re­frained from hav­ing her pic­ture taken, say­ing she was be­ing “vi­ciously threat­ened by some­one”. She is too afraid to men­tion the per­son’s name and said she feared for her life.

She said that she was on the verge of un­will­ingly sign­ing her baby off to some­one else on May 31.

Baden­horst said the process to re­move the child was done in one day with­out any so­cial worker present.

“The court process took less than 24 hours and Harber and his team never gave us a chance to work any­thing out.

“We both have ex­tended family that could have taken cus­tody of our daugh­ter,” he said.

“We were ac­cused of be­ing drug ad­dicts, but no tests were done to con­firm that,” said Baden­horst.

Their daugh­ter is now in the cus­tody of a lo­cal lawyer and they are al­lowed to see her for an hour on Sun­days.

“Do you know how mis­er­able I feel ev­ery night when I have to sleep?” Ma­ree said.

The cou­ple said they had tried to lay charges against Harber at the lo­cal po­lice sta­tion, but they hit a brick wall. Harber has a court or­der against them that for­bids them from dis­cussing the mat­ter with the me­dia.

How­ever, they de­cided to take a risk and tell City Press their story.

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