By Tarisai Machakaire
HARARE – A Harare magistrate has reserved ruling on whether former Energy minister Samuel Undenge should continue paying maintenance for his son who has turned 18.
Undenge, who has been dragged to the Maintenance Court on arrears of R225 300, argues that by operation of law, a maintenance order falls away once the child concerned reaches the age of 18 and can only be enforced if another application and order is imposed by the court.
He is being represented by Alec Muchadehama.Harare magistrate Annia Ndiraya will pass the ruling on July 5.
Undenge said he did not dispute that he still had the responsibility to cater for his son’s University fees, but opposed being liable for arrears alleged to have accrued in monthly maintenance fees.
“Where in the docket is it stated that the accused person must continue paying maintenance for a child who has attained the age of 18?” his attorney queried.
“Unless there is an application for extension of that order which was given before the child reached the age of 18 any other order automatically falls away,” Muchadehama said.
“The maintenance can only be resuscitated by a specific order in the Maintenance Court.”
According to Muchadehama, Undenge’s ex-wife, Angeline, approached the Civil Court on May 4 seeking an upward variation of the maintenance fees but the former minister made a counter application challenging lawfulness on basis that his child had attained 18 years.
Angeline’s application was dismissed by the court and she took the issue to the High Court where it is still pending determination.
Prosecutor, Devoted Nyagano, yesterday objected Muchadehama’s challenge saying it was “a mere delaying tactic to avoid paying for his child’s maintenance.
“For the sake of justice and the child’s future may the matter be dealt with today. The accused person has made an application for exception and these are just delaying tactics as they did not even come prepared with a defence outline,” Nyagano said.
“These courts prioritise the interests of the child as they are of paramount importance and I submit that trial should commence without delay.”
According to State papers, Undenge was in March 2014 ordered to pay maintenance for his one minor child with Angeline.
The court heard that Undenge failed to pay school fees for the child since January 2017 to March this year.
It is further alleged that Undenge’s arrears have accumulated to R225 300. Daily News.