A PROTRACTED paternity and maintenance wrangle pitting a Bulawayo man and a woman who is claiming that he was the father of her seven-year-old daughter took an exciting twist last week.

This was after it emerged that the woman, Sarah Sibanda from Cowdray Park allegedly chickened out of the paternity tests after she and the child reportedly failed to pitch up at the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTZ) offices in Harare where their blood samples where supposed to be taken for DNA tests.

DNA tests are conducted when a man contests paternity and are usually given six months to undergo testing. During that period he is ordered to pay interim monthly maintenance until the results are out.

Wellington Tshuma, an electrician with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority who is contesting the paternity of the child claimed that Sibanda chickened out after she remained "holed-up" at a Harare lodge where she was booked by a male "stranger" after she claimed that her money was stolen while on her way to Harare.

This was despite the fact that Tshuma had paid for Sibanda's transport and accommodation costs amounting to $120 as well as $350 and R 1 150 which was going to be used to have their blood samples taken for DNA testing at Unistel Medical Laboratories in South Africa.

Tshuma from Mzilikazi suburb who vehemently denied before the court that he slept with Sibanda, was advised by the presiding magistrate Victor Mpofu to go for DNA tests as the only way to have him exonerated from looking after another man's seed.

He said on the day Sibanda claimed that they slept together, he was too drunk to perform any sexual act.

"Your Worship, I couldn't have sex with her on that because I was too drunk," he told the court.

Meanwhile, according to a letter from NBTS which was written to the Bulawayo Maintenance Court and which this publication had sight of, Sibanda failed to present herself together with the child to provide required their blood samples so that they can undergo DNA tests in South Africa.

"We acknowledge that Mr Welling Tshuma came on Tuesday 26 August 2014 to the centre to have blood samples taken for DNA testing but however, Sarah Sibanda and the child did not present themselves to provide required blood samples.

"Please be advised that the parties involved in the event that should one or all fail to keep the appointment, there will be a cancellation fee of $400 to cover the costs of preparation," reads part of the letter.

Tshuma who is contributing a monthly maintenance of $80 claimed that Sibanda's refusal to pitch up for DNA testing was an indication that the child was not his, adding that Sibanda was also using him to look after her child after shunning her irresponsible biological father.

However, Sibanda who is disputing Tshuma's claims gave a different version to the court on why the DNA tests failed to take place.

"When I went to Harare the respondent told me to wait for him saying he had not arrived but he decided to go alone. As if that was not enough my bag which was containing the money which he had given me to cover for accommodation and transport was also stolen while on my way to Harare.

"On my return I was later assisted by the police since I had no money," she told Bulawayo magistrate Vivian Ndlovu, who later postponed the matter for a further three months to allow both parties to travel again back to Harare for the DNA tests.

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