FINES FOR PREG­NANT WOMEN

Un­mar­ried moms forced to pay chief R850 penalty

Sowetan - - FRONT PAGE - Glacier Nkhwashu

A LIM­POPO chief is fin­ing un­wed moth­ers R850 if they fail to prove who fa­thered their chil­dren, caus­ing out­rage in his vil­lage.

And should th­ese women – or their chil­dren – die be­fore pay­ing the fine, their fam­i­lies are re­fused per­mis­sion to bury them in Man­dala vil­lage, near Tho­hoyan­dou in Venda.

Ac­cord­ing to vil­lagers, when a young woman in the vil­lage falls preg­nant, her el­ders are forced to alert Chief Pan­de­lani Singo who will im­me­di­ately is­sue a “war­rant of ar­rest ” and sum­mon the woman to the tribal court for ques­tion­ing. The South African Na­tional Civic Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Sanco) took the chief on and re­ported him to the Venda king­dom. Zakaria Mun­yai, sec­re­tary of the lo­cal Sanco, said the mat­ter came to their at­ten­tion in Fe­bru­ary when the fam­ily of a young mother who had died, failed to raise the fee.

Mun­yai said they re­ported the chief to the king, but were still await­ing a re­sponse from King Toni Mphe- phu. One lo­cal sub-head-man, who de­clined to be named, told Sowetan that the fin­ing of un­wed moth­ers dates back to 2008.

A sec­ond head­man said they had tried to help the chief draft a con­sti­tu­tion but he re­fused the ad­vice.

“He told us he was designing his own con­sti­tu­tion to tar­get women who have chil­dren out of wed­lock,” the head­man said. Ac­cord­ing to vil­lagers, some girls have been forced into de­liv­er­ing their ba­bies in se­cret af­ter hid­ing their preg­nan­cies as a re­sult of the stigma at­tached to be­ing a sin­gle mother. A sin­gle mother, who is also a high school pupil, said she had been re­jected by her child ’ s fa­ther, lead­ing her to hide her preg­nancy and flee­ing the vil­lage.

An­other mother said she gave up her SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency card and ID to a loan shark who loaned her the money to pay the fine.

“My child ’ s sup­port grant card is still there,” she said.

Jack­son Ma­fun­zwaini, the Venda king ’ s ad­viser and spokesman said they had only re­ceived the com­plaint from the com­mu­nity 15 days ago.

“We were still plan­ning to get to the bot­tom of it when we heard the chief talk­ing on ra­dio that he won't do it again. So we find no rea­son to still ap­proach him. We are tak­ing the word he said on ra­dio, for now we ’ ll wait and see if he re­ally meant it.”

When called for com­ment, Singo said: “We have re­solved the mat­ter with my com­mu­nity. I see no need to en­ter­tain the is­sue.”

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