What was once a bundle of joy became a source of despair for a Gauteng mother, who discovered a son she had raised as her own for 16 years was not her biological child.
Meta Diphoko’s stable and peaceful life took a dramatic turn in 2012 when she approached the courts for maintenance against her husband.
“He demanded DNA tests be conducted on the boy and the third born, a girl, before he pays maintenance. We were all horrified when the results of the boy stated that neither I nor my husband were his parents,” the 43-year-old mother of five said.
Her husband blamed her and started terrorising the son, leaving Diphoko with no choice but to move out of the house with her children.
She has moved back to Kagiso, saying she could not allow her husband to abuse her son, and to protect the boy she had raised as her own.
“Blood or no blood, he is still my son and he will remain my son. I breastfed him – and even if I find my biological son, they will both be my sons. His siblings are his world and they love and protect him,” Diphoko said.
She is suing the Gauteng health department for R5 million as investigations by her lawyers have established the only plausible explanation of this mess was a swap at Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital in Krugersdorp in 1998.
Diphoko, a cleaner, said she has cried herself to sleep since the discovery, saying it has also taken a serious toll on her son, now 20, who has allegedly taken to drinking to numb his feelings.
“He has moved out, saying it was painful to watch his siblings sitting with their mother when he did not even know his mother. We are going through hell,” she said, bursting into tears.
The lawsuit has been dragging on since 2013, with Diphoko rejecting the department’s R2 million out-of-court settlement in 2016, and increasing her R4 million demand to R5 million. Diphoko said she and her children wanted closure.
The countless postponements were killing her and her children. The request by her lawyers for the trial dates to be set for May and June was rejected by the deputy judge president as unjustified.
Diphoko’s daughter, Busisiwe, said the department requested a postponement to 2021 because of new evidence.
“They are playing games because it is not their money,” she said. “They want to frustrate us, even if it means dragging the matter on till we give it up. They are even arguing that my mom swapped the babies to sue the department later and that her son died and she stole another baby. Imagine what all this does to her and my brother?”
Busisiwe said she was close to her brother and shared an unbreakable bond, although it was traumatic to see him go through this hell.
“He does not say much but you can see that this is eating him up. We need to move on with our lives,” she said.
The department ignored requests for comment.
Sipho Mabena / The Citizen
* The family requested that the son’s name be withheld in this sensitive case.