'Ha di lwa di gata marole' is a painful Setswana expression equivalent to the English saying when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. This simply emphasises that when a couple fights, it is children who will bear the brunt.
Last week, Lobatse High Court judge Godfrey Nthomiwa pleaded with a warring couple to cooperate and provide a conducive environment for their three minor children. The couple is undergoing divorce and are in disagreement over child custody.
A man (names withheld) had filed an urgent application seeking custody of their three children after their mother refused for him to take them back to school in Swaziland (now known as eSwatini). Advancing his reasons, he said the children came to him in December and his family would not allow them back to Botswana, as they wanted the wife’s family to apologise for having said he abandoned the children in Botswana.
“I applied on urgency as the children have to go back to the school they were attending in Swaziland. They were to come here for school holidays and go back to Swaziland, but she is refusing to let them go and has taken them to a school in Mogoditshane,” he said.
The man argued that the children would have better education staying with him in Swaziland rather than in Botswana. “It is in the best interest of every parent to take their children to the best schools. In Swaziland they are in a private school while in Botswana they are in an English medium school, which is privately owned. The school in Swaziland is in top three and not everybody gets admitted there. Also, we have a farm in Swaziland where they learn agriculture,” he said.
He also said the mother
In her opposition, the woman told the court that she was scared that she could never see her children again. “I told him that children were missing him and they went there in December. The agreement was that they return on January 14 so they go to school on the 16th. He then told me that they will not be coming back and he has found a school for them.
“When they got back here for school holidays, I took them to their former school and it would not be good to remove them yet again,” she said. She said she had taken their eldest child for counselling and others were yet to get the help as the situation was affecting them badly.
She admitted that she had difficulty allowing the father to see the children, as she was scared that she would not see them ever again. At that point, Nthomiwa told the two to seek attorneys to represent them for better packaging of their case.
He emphasised that they should not make children suffer. “Please find a common ground to allow each other access to the children as they did not put themselves in this situation. They need both of their parents,” he said.