An article by The Star, “High Court rules in favour of adopted child” (28/04/2010, p. 9), was selected as a MAD OAT Glad for rare reporting that protected the identity of a child caught in the middle of a maintenance battle.

The article by Baldwin Ndaba, reported on a Johannesburg High Court ruling in favour of a child that was adopted through Xhosa customary law. The child was adopted by a couple when she was eight months old, following the death of both her biological parents. “After the adoption, the couple performed Xhosa traditional rites and rituals, accepting her as their child,” the article stated.

The couple later divorced, with the child’s adoptive father refusing to pay maintenance, compelling the adoptive mother to approach the courts in attempt to get the father to fulfill his financial obligations to the child.

“The husband argued in court that (the magistrate) was not supposed to issue any maintenance order against him as he was not the biological father of the child and had never legally adopted her or had her placed under his care by social workers,” the article reported.

The magistrate however, ruled in favour of the divorced wife and referred the case to the High Court which “found that all the laws dealing with the interests of children, including the constitution and Xhosa customary law, found the man’s argument inadequate.”
The couple in the story was not identified “to protect the identity of the child,” the article stated. This should be commended as it is in line with legislation that protects the interests of children caught in the middle of maintenance battles, specifically Section 36 of the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998, which states:
“No person shall publish in any manner whatsoever the name or address of any person under the age of 18 years who is or was involved in any proceedings at a maintenance enquiry or the name of his or her school or any other information likely to reveal the identity of that person.”
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) congratulates The Star on an insightful, well-reported article that provided quotations that were both relevant and that referred to both the Child Care Act and the Bill of Rights.

We urge the media at large to take note of the exemplary reporting on maintenance disputes involving children.