Judge Mutuna, wife seek exclusive custody of child

Judge Mallet; Hammer
Judge Mallet; Hammer

LUSAKA High Court judge Nigel Mutuna and his wife, Mweshi, have gone to court to seek exclusive custody of a child she had with another man prior to their marriage.

In this case, the judge and Mweshi have sued Mazuba Kaunda in the Lusaka High Court, seeking a declaration that the defendant, having abandoned his parental responsibilities towards the child, is taken to have relinquished them, among other reliefs.

“An order granting the first and second plaintiff, as persons having custody, and in whose residence and care the infant is and in whose maintenance the welfare of the infant is, full parental rights and obligations of the infant to the exclusion of the defendant,” the plaintiffs submitted.

According to a statement of claim filed in the principal registry in October, Mweshi stated that since the birth of the child in 2006, she had single-handedly shouldered all the parental duties and responsibilities.

She stated that Kaunda had neglected to perform his parental responsibilities to the boy, among them failure to visit him on a monthly basis and to attend school activities even when he had been informed.

Mweshi also submitted that Kaunda attempted to exercise parental rights after she informed him that he had to maintain contact with the child in an orderly manner, which she determined that he would have access to him every last weekend of the month.

She further stated that since she got married to judge Mutuna, all monetary expenses, physical custody, residence and care of the child had been borne by the couple jointly with cosmetic contribution by Kaunda in the form of clothes and toys, which are few and far between.

Mweshi stated that the boy was currently in grade five at Lusaka International Community School and that it was the intention of the couple that once he completes his primary education, he should undertake secondary education at the same school.

“And once he completes his secondary education, it is their intention to send him to either the United Kingdom or South Africa to undertake his tertiary and university education,” read the statement in part.

Mweshi added that Kaunda had exercised his rights over the boy in an unreasonable manner and to the detriment of the child’s welfare by unreasonably inconveniencing her when giving consent for the boy to travel outside jurisdiction with the couple.

She stated that Kaunda had been exposing the child to a number of girlfriends, thereby corrupting the boy’s morals.

And Lusaka High Court judge Mungeni Mulenga entered judgment in default of appearance and defence in favour of the couple, but Kaunda filed ex-parte summons for an order to stay execution of the judgment.

In his affidavit to stay the default judgment, Kaunda stated that he had defence on merit on which the judgment should be determined.

He stated that if the judgment in default was not stayed, he would be deprived of access to his biological child, who over the years had developed a great bond and relationship with him.
Kaunda stated that he had always been willing to share responsibilities of the infant but faces resistance from the child’s mother.

He added that the boy is registered under his employers for medical and education allowance of up to 90 per cent of school fees.

Kaunda stated that Mweshi does not share information regarding the boy’s school activities and that the couple restricts his visit to him.

He stated further that the couple refuses to grant him a visitation request of two weekends per month, plus some days over the holidays and that the boy’s requests to visit him are denied by the plaintiffs.

On an allegation that he exposed the child to many girlfriends, Kaunda submitted that the child had met his partner, Charlotte, and a number of his relatives when he was allowed to visit.

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