Custody battle: Buyanga scores against girlfriend as court grants name change

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By Mary Taruvinga

SOUTH Africa based businessman Frank Buyanga has scored a major victory in custody battle against his ex girlfriend, Chantelle Muteswa after the Children Court in Harare on Wednesday ruled he had right to have his name appear on their four-year-old son’s birth certificate..

The businessman has been seeking the court’s  directive to force Muteswa to have their son carry his name and on Wednesday the Children’s Court granted Buyanga’s prayer as the custody battle intensified.

Harare Magistrate Stanford Mambanje granted the request at the Children’s Court, where Buyanga also sought the court’s permission to travel with his son this weekend.

Buyanga also successfully applied for name change saying Muteswa misled the Registrar General that she does not know her son’s father thereby infringing on the boy’s right to identity.

Mambanje ruled the couple should acquire a new birth certificate showing Buyanga as the father of the child.

He also ruled that the couple should acquire a new passport which will stay in custody the Registrar General’s custody.

However the child will only travel outside the country with consent from both parties.

Through his lawyer, Buyanga had told Magistrate Mambabnje that he wants to travel with his son to South Africa for his baptism this Saturday.

“Applicant will not be able to attend the ceremony with his son and cannot afford to miss this very important and significant event which furthers Applicant of his right to religion. There will be no other remedy to the applicant and his son if the baptism is missed,” Buyanga’s attorney, Advocate Jaqualine Rukanda said.

“All the Applicant wants is for the matter to be decided upon urgently. The judgment that the applicant should not take the child out of court’s jurisdiction has been appealed against thereby suspending the judgement order,” she added.

However, Muteswa’s lawyer Munyaradzi Bwanya hit back saying Buyanga had no right to take the child for christening since he is not the custodian.

“It is common at law that the religious upbringing of a minor child and decisions relating to this is vested in the custodian parent and not the parent with access as is the applicant in this matter.

“The Applicant before you has come with an appeal in disguise in that he wants to dictate the religious upbringing of this child yet he had no rights to do so,” said Bwanya.

Bwanya added, it was strange that Buyanga wants to take the minor to a church he has never attended for baptism.

“He (the minor) has never attended that church. Its common cause the child resides in Zimbabwe not in South Africa. In fact, he has already been baptised and attends church here in Zimbabwe,” said Muteswa’s lawyer.

Bwanya went on to submit an audio recording of the child’s baptism ceremony also claiming that Buyanga’s family also attended the event.

But Rukanda argued that the fact that the boy’s birth certificate does not reflect Buyanga’s name shows that Muteswa was up to mischief.

“The record does not show the applicant as the father of the minor in spite of the fact that the respondent acknowledges the applicant s the biological father,” she argued.

“The parties entered into an agreement to regulate the welfare and care of the minor on April 10, 2018. In the same agreement Muteswa acknowledges Buyanga as the biological father of the four year-old boy. It is important to note because as a result he has been meeting his obligations as a father.”

Rukanda added: “Because of this evidence and urgent need that has arisen for the applicant to travel with his son, it is important and in the best interests to have his name endorsed on the birth certificate as the father.”

Buyanga argues that Muteswa allegedly made the misrepresentation that she does not know the boy’s father after she parted ways with him and came back to Zimbabwe.

He claims the child is now registered in Muteswa’s name despite that the two had acquired a birth certificate in Buyanga’s name when they were still staying together in South Africa.

The Registrar General Clement Masango was cited as the second respondent. Buyanga claims the two used to stay in Sandton South Africa before they ended their relationship. Several cases between Buyanga and Muteswa are pending before the courts relating to the acrimonious custody fight.

Recently, Muteswa was granted guardianship of the minor by the Harare Civil Court Magistrate Trevor Nytasanza.

As the saga unfolded, Buyanga was this winter granted interim custody by the High Court with Muteswa having supervisory access.

This was after the court ruled that Muteswa was not of fixed aboard after her father was evicted from a house they used to stay together.