HIGH Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe is embroiled in a legal battle over the custody of a child it is claimed he fathered out of wedlock. In papers submitted to the Juvenile Court, maternal r
elatives of the child alleged that the boy had been abused while in the custody of Justice Hungwe.
Hungwe, who was appointed to the bench in December 2000, last month won a provisional order in the magistrates court to take custody of his son aged eight, following the death of the mother, Susan Madyara, in April.
However, the Madyara family is challenging the ruling arguing that Hungwe, contrary to his claims, had not married the deceased under customary law.
Hungwe was already married to another woman in terms of the Marriage Act, and has children. He however entered an extra- marital affair with the deceased woman in 1995 resulting in the birth of the son, it is claimed in the court papers.
According to an outline submitted by Kuda Madyara, Susan’s brother, Hungwe took custody of the child from the Madyaras after the mother’s death with the connivance of a headmaster where the child attended school. Madyara claims the child only escaped to his mother’s family on October 21 after allegedly being subjected to mistreatment at Hungwe’s home.
On the boy’s return, Madyara said, he reported the alleged abuse at Harare Central police station who referred him to Highlands police station where a statement was recorded.
“I could not attach the statements to this affidavit because the police could not release them,” said Madyara.
“They cited the sensitivity of the case owing to the stature of the applicant who, as I have indicated, is a High Court judge,” he said.
He wants the child to testify on his alleged abuse in the magistrates’ chambers.
The case will be heard in the magistrates’ court on Tuesday and, according to the papers filed with the court, Kuda Madyara will ask to be granted custody of the boy. Madyara is represented in the case by Thembinkosi Magwaliba of Magwaliba, Matutu & Kwirira legal practitioners.
“It is inappropriate for the court to simply order the return of the child in the foregoing circumstances. That may result in the child being traumatised and brutalised,” Madyara said.
“The mistreatment of the child was so gross that one of the applicant’s (Hungwe’s) children with his wife told the minor child that he should run away because her mother intended to poison him. The potential damage to the child’s physical, moral and psychological wellbeing is so serious that it cannot be overlooked.”
Chihambakwe, Mutizwa & Partners are representing Hungwe in the case.