Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
DNA tests carried out on men who challenged paternity at the Harare Magistrates’ Civil Court last year reveal that 70 percent of them were raising children that were not theirs.The tests proved that nearly three-quarters of men who challenged paternity of the children they were maintaining won their cases.
Statistics from the court show that 11 men proved that women had framed them and forced them to pay maintenance for children they had not fathered.
Only five tests confirmed the men as the real fathers of the children. Upon announcement of the negative DNA results, the maintenance court immediately cancels orders that compelled the men to support the children.
In 2011, 67 percent of men who challenged paternity through DNA tests at the Harare Magistrates’ Civil Court won their cases, with six out of nine men being discharged from paying monthly maintenance.
Only three men in 2011 were confirmed to be the fathers of the children they were maintaining after their blood samples were taken for DNA testing at Unistel Medical Laboratories in South Africa.
DNA paternity tests are conducted in cases where a man doubts having fathered a child. From last year to date, the Harare Magistrates’ Civil Court has received up to 50 maintenance claims daily, an indication that unprotected sex and divorce cases are on the increase.
Financially stable men fall prey to cheats who shun irresponsible biological fathers. Among the financially stable men who fell prey to cheats was prominent businessman Mr Genius Kadungure who maintained somebody’s child for 11 years.
DNA paternity tests results that were announced in court on December 10 last year marked the end of his troubles.
“My friend it is not easy to support a child belonging to another man for 11 years. At first I decided to support the child after a lot of pressure from the woman.
“Being a public figure, I had to avoid trouble by paying the demanded money but my sixth sense would tell me that I was not responsible,” he said.
Mrs Dorreen Mutukwa demanded US$1 500 as monthly maintenance and the matter spilled into court. The court provisionally granted US$250 maintenance, which he paid from September last year pending the outcome of the DNA test results.
In another interesting case in which a woman was claiming maintenance for two children, the husband successfully applied for DNA paternity testing and he tested positive in respect of one child while paternity remained doubtful in respect of the second one as the result was 90 percent.
Laboratory experts who conducted the tests suggested that it was either that the man or a close relative of his could be responsible for the child.
“ . . . if mutation frequency is considered, the chance of paternity is 99,910934 percent. If close relatives are also possible candidates, he or they should be tested. If not, paternity is confirmed with a high degree of certainty,” the experts say.
Most men fail to undergo the tests due to their cost. Last year, 96 men applied to undergo DNA paternity tests, but nearly 50 abandoned their challenges after failing to raise the required fees.
It costs between US$470 and US$520 to test a man, woman and one child. In a maintenance application, the onus is on the man to prove he is not the father through DNA paternity tests.
If the man contests paternity, he is given up to six months to undergo testing. During that period he is ordered to pay interim monthly maintenance until the results are out.
The court refers the parties to the National Blood Transfusion Services of Zimbabwe (NBTSZ) where blood samples are taken and sent to a South African laboratory.
Results are expected after between 10 and 15 days. The results are sent back to NBTSZ, which then forwards them to the court. The court then calls the parties and announces the results.
When a man wins his case, he then applies for discharge from paying maintenance and can subsequently claim back all the money he had paid from the woman.
In the event that the woman fails to pay back, a court order may be obtained to attach property or to commit her to prison.
When the paternity is confirmed (positive results), the woman can then apply for upward variation from the interim maintenance that was being paid.