I remember arriving at the Randburg Magistrate parking lot for our first court appearance in my VW Golf Chico. We both arrived at the same time. He was in a white Audi Q7 SUV with his new wife and an entourage of his brothers and cousins to defend himself on why he could not afford to pay child maintenance.
On some days he came in his wife’s car, a black Range Rover Sport SUV. I felt as small as the car I was driving. I was so humiliated. He would be extremely pompous as he walked out of the car wearing expensive clothes.
I would come back home from those sessions in tears. I felt so frustrated after every court appearance. Even the court officials could see that he was taking them for a ride. There was very little they could do. The law had to take its course. There was just too much red tape and he was just not cooperating.
I had no one to accompany me to court as all the people close to me had to be at work. On the days he decided to show up. I was sitting there all alone while he sat with his wife and his siblings. They would laugh and have loud conversations while I sat on the other side all by myself.
Tears would stream down my face. I would constantly go and hide in the toilets, cry and walk out as if I was fine. On some days he would not pitch at court. And we would sit in court waiting for him until late in the day. A fax would come in after many hours of waiting from his doctor saying he was not feeling well. We all knew it was not the truth but there was not much we could do to dispute the doctor’s report.
The back and forth became too exhausting and embarrassing for me. I started looking like a fool.He was self-employed and that made it difficult to determine how much he earned. He also refused to bring his business documents and bank statements to court so they could see how much he was making. It looked like it was all fun and games for him.
He claimed to be unemployed and that he was being supported by his wife. He had registered his businesses under his wife’s name.He was not interested in knowing where his children lived, what they were eating and how they were surviving.
He displayed so much arrogance and he was not willing to cooperate with the court. After a year of walking the corridors of the Randburg magistrate courts, I decided to call it a day. He was over R100 000 in maintenance arrears. On one occasion he forgot to send a doctor’s letter to the court and a warrant of arrest was issued. The following week he was arrested and he spent a night in jail. I got a call from his wife telling me to watch my back.
He was still not willing to contribute anything even after he was arrested. He simply didn’t care.
A day came when I had had enough of the humiliation and shame. On our last court appearance plucked up the courage to ask the magistrate to drop the case and cancel all his arrears.
My argument was that if I had to go through so much humiliation to force someone to take care of his own children, then it was not worth my time anymore. The negative energy and the animosity between us started taking its toll on me. It had become a routine that once every two weeks or so I would get home in tears feeling very hopeless and frustrated by our justice system.
Baby-daddy was so shocked the day I asked the magistrate to drop the case. He walked out of the courtroom like he had won a case. He was all smiles as he left with his wife — phoning people and laughing so loud in jubilation. I could see the signs of relief and victory on his face by the way he walked out of there.
I learned that you have to be emotionally prepared when you decide to take courts routes to fight a battle. You also need a strong support base. My support base was very weak, almost non-existent. My family and friends could not accompany me to court due to work commitments. Taking time off work to attend court proceedings was also becoming a problem for me as well.
I was in a place of despair. I decided that it was better to use my energy to push myself out of the pit I was in than to waste it in court with a man who was not ready to play fair.
At one point things were so tough financially I asked him to take the girls and live with them since I was not coping. He responded by telling me that he would not be able to take them in due to his new marriage arrangements.
I eventually got a permanent job at the Sunday Times newspaper as a PA to the editor. I was able to rent a two-bedroomed flat. I brought the girls over to Johannesburg to live with me. I got them into a crèche and started rebuilding my life.
Throughout that period I accumulated a lot of anger and resentment because of all that baby-daddy-drama. I struggled to forgive him because he never showed any remorse. He lied and manipulated friends and family to take his side since he had the financial muscle. I lost a lot of friends who sided with him.
Again, I got so desperate I called his pastor to ask him to intervene and ask him to send us some money. The pastor told me he does not get involved in his church member’s private affairs and yet my ex was an associate pastor at his church. He would regularly preach there and I would hear that he gave a million rands offering towards the church’s building fund.
This is enough to get one bitter and angry towards God. I know very well that it’s a situation that a lot of women are finding themselves in. It sounds insensitive when people ask you to forgive and leave him alone. Seventeen years later, I am still not getting support. He still does not know where we live or where the girls go to school. However, the girls chat to him on the phone every now then. They are old enough now to express their disappointment as they go through their own pain of broken promise.
About the author:
I am a communicator by profession, be it orally or through the written word. I hold a Masters Degree in journalism from the London School of Communications. My working experience saw me in the newsrooms of mainstream media in South Africa. I worked as a news reporter and a Columnist for the Sunday Times and the Sunday Independent newspapers as well as Television Broadcasting. My passion however has always been to serve single moms in their journey to spiritual and emotional wholeness.
I felt a nudge from God to spark healing conversations for other women who are parenting on their own to be that supportive and understanding ear for one another, inspire each other to greatness.
It took me more than 5 years to write this book. I threw in the towel several times in frustration. I questioned whether anybody cared about the subject I wanted to tackle. We all have scars from the battles we have fought and won in this journey called life. Mine is surviving an ugly divorce and joining the Elite Single Moms Club.
Through healing, forgiveness and compassion, I have found the courage to reflect with gratitude at how far I have come from that hurt and confused 25-year-old to the beautiful woman I have become. We can all tell our truth whenever we are ready. And I am so ready to share mine with you all.
I am currently a student at the Johannesburg Bible College and consult as a Communications Public Relations Specialist.