WHEN Maritha Ndlovu got a call from her estranged ex-husband, Kudakwashe Mahachi, in February, she shuddered as she thought the call was going to be punctuated with arguments, insults and swear words, but she was pleasantly surprised to hear him say he missed their four-year-old son and wanted him in South Africa for a stretch.
On 25 February she was over the moon to see her son, whose favourite footballer is the late Diego Maradona, one of the greatest players in the history of football, fly to South Africa to be reunited with his father.
Every day, she called to check on the son that she hoped could grow to be as half as good as Maradona and she was relieved to learn that he was getting along well not only with his father but with his stepmother, Rose Mahachi.
However, her happiness was short-lived.
Without an explanation, her calls to Mahachi were no longer going through. WhatsApp messages were no longer double ticking. When she failed to get in touch with Rose, the stepmother who was surprisingly sweet to her and her son, she knew that something was wrong.
“There was no reason for them to block me. I knew something was wrong after I was blocked on WhatsApp and my calls were blacklisted,” said Maritha.
On 19 April, Maritha’s phone rang, on the other end of the call was Mahachi’s grandmother.
“She said my son is sick and he is at her house in Cowdray Park. I asked her how is he in Cowdray Park because as far as I knew he was in South Africa and she said he had been in Zimbabwe since last Thursday. I lost it and asked how come I was not informed that he had been returned, after all I am his mother.
“I told the grandmother that I was going to come collect him the next day. But she insisted that I drop everything and come see my son. That made me realise that something was wrong with my son. I was panicking, so I called a relative and we went together to Cowdray Park. I found my son sleeping and heavily bandaged on the head and I thought it was not that bad. When I removed the blanket that was covering him, because I wanted to carry him in my arms, I was shocked to find him with burns all over the body,” said an emotional Maritha.
The boy’s burns were third-degree and required immediate medical treatment. But to Maritha’s shock and horror, the grandmother told her that she had been treating the child herself.
His wounds had pus and his rotting skin was falling off and emitting a putrid odour.
Her mental anguish was worsened when she learnt that her son, who had been burnt in South Africa, had not only to contend with the unbearable pains of his burns, but had to endure 863 kilometres on the road, unaccompanied by a medical nurse or a relative to look after him.
Mahachi and Rose had somehow found a greedy malayitsha who was prepared to smuggle the severely burnt child to Zimbabwe.
The boy’s burns were third-degree and required immediate medical treatment. But to Maritha’s shock and horror, the grandmother told her that she had been treating the child herself
The boy did not receive any medical attention in South Africa.
“The journey from Johannesburg to Bulawayo is about 10 hours and he was alone. What kind of father does that to his son? Mahachi has money and he can afford to have his son treated in South Africa. I took my son to a private surgery and they quickly called an ambulance that took him to Mpilo Hospital. The doctor said taking him to hospital using any other car was not appropriate, but his father put him in a Quantum bus. How cruel can one be?
“I have seen the lies circulating on social media. I didn’t burn my son. If I was at fault I would be in jail right now, but I am here in hospital day and night looking after my son. I am his mother and I live for my kids. What will I benefit from burning my son?” Maritha asked.
But how did the child get burnt?
“My son is four years old but he is not stupid and he has been talking. He says his father was abusing him. One of his front teeth is missing after his father hit him with some kind of iron bar and he has an injury on the forehead. His back is scourged from being whipped with a phone charger cable by his stepmother.
“But that is nothing compared to what his father did to him. He told me that his father beat him and then boiled water using a kettle and poured it on him.
“Who does that to their own child? We all punish our children when they do wrong, but to burn him with water is extremely evil. What did he hope to achieve? For years, he has been calling me a bad mother and people believed him, now people know the truth. It is unfortunate that the truth has come out this way. My son is now disabled because of his father. He will never walk again,” she said as her voice broke.
Doctors had to amputate the child’s right foot from the ankle as the foot had been injured beyond repair. His left foot was also severely burnt but doctors managed to salvage it.
Maritha said: “He has been going for skin grafting, the doctors are doing all they can to help him. He was rotting away and had they not told me, he could have died in Cowdray Park. Mahachi’s sisters are paying his medical bills and I have heard that he is now not in good books with them because they are also hurt by what happened.
“He has not called me ever since this happened. He does not check on his child. He does not care and he is not bothered. I understand that he does not want anything to do with me, but this is not about me. This is about his son.”
Police have interviewed Maritha and told her the case was being handled by the International Criminal Police Organisation, commonly known as Interpol.
“The police came and took a statement, but they told me that since he was burnt in South Africa, the case falls under the jurisdiction of Interpol. They also said they cannot interview my son because he is still in severe pain. They will interview him later when his pain has subsided.
“I don’t want anything to do with Mahachi. He is my history and not my present and future. So I don’t understand why he is telling anyone who cares to listen that I want his money and that I am out to get him. All I want is justice for my son,” said Maritha.
In a telephone interview, an angry Mahachi vehemently denied that he burnt his son.
“I am the father of the child and I am not aware that he is burnt. As far as I know I sent him to Zimbabwe in one piece. Don’t listen to lies. There is nothing like that. My son is okay. My son was not burnt. If he was burnt then he was burnt in Zimbabwe, not here in South Africa. Go ahead and write your lies, already I see your stories on social media,” said Mahachi.
Rose also denied that the child was hurt in South Africa.
“My brother, people hate us. We don’t know why and we don’t know what we did to them,” she said before Mahachi took the phone from her.
Two people, using United Kingdom numbers, later texted this reporter on WhatsApp, laying all the blame on Maritha.
“Kuda is dealing with a bitter ex. Let me take you back, are you aware this lady was impreg_nated by a malayitsha while she was married to Kuda? That’s why they divorced, she has been busy trying to destroy Kuda, we all know. As a man my brother dealing with a bitter ex… maybe you will understand, you will feel sorry for Kuda, the guy is going through a lot and they have been refused access to the child.
“Be careful of destroying someone’s career without proof of V11. Dig deeper before all this things, you don’t want to tarnish someone’s name. So do you believe the child was burnt by Kuda?
“Do you understand Kuda’s son is in hospital and do you even know how he feels and you people are adding salt to his wound? Imagine you ..your child is in hospital and you are being accused that you are the one. Kuda is saying he is not aware (that the child was burnt and is in hospital) because he was denied access to the child and when the child left to Zim he was okay so he can’t answer you,” said Mahachi’s defender on condition of anonymity.
Kuda Mahachi used to play for Orlando Pirates
The defender claimed that Maritha was using the child to spite Mahachi.
“Do you even know she was blackmailing Kuda for 2,5 million Rands in SA, saying Kuda broke her hand when they fought because of cheating. When the courts said she should go for medical reports, she dropped the charges.
“Before we proceed, for the kid’s sake, I want to highlight to you of the person who we dealing with. She is a psycho, she is using the child’s medical condition to get to Kuda. This is the child’s condition, does it mean that this child was abused? I saw someone on social media advertising stc 30 but because it’s Kuda, a soccer player he has burnt his child. The boy was confessing to the maid the day he was going back to Zimbabwe that he didn’t want to go back.
“Brother, I got a lot, I am giving you highlights.”
The second defender said Mahachi should be accorded the presumption of innocence until he is proven guilty.
“What’s the full story because we are not aware what’s going on! We just see things on social media, different stories that don’t add up. Because right now we are dealing with a bitter ex. Do you have the evidence? because it’s different stories! Who told you that? I want to know what they said to you before commenting on anything.
“That’s the day the boy went to Zimbabwe, he was OK and no one knows what’s going on!
This is the evidence I’m showing you! Right now we don’t know where he is, we just see it on social media. My client is not allowed to see or ask anything about the child!
“So for now we not commenting anything! Kuda is innocent until proven guilty! Anyone who believes Kuda would do something like that is crazy. Honestly would you do that to your child! First it was beating, second he was burnt, now it’s rituals. The child was not burnt when he left South Africa as I showed you the picture.
“No, the child didn’t get burnt and he’s not aware. We don’t know what’s going on that’s why I’m saying they need to let us take the child for the tests. Why is she not letting us take the child for treatment if it’s true!
“If you could understand from day one, Kuda has never had peace. Everyone knows her scandals! Now she’s using the child’s condition to destroy him. For now, I won’t comment much, the matter is with our solicitors! We talking of someone who demanded 2 million Rands,” said the second defender after sending a picture of the child.
While we wait for Interpol to carry and conclude their investigations, what is clear and undisputed is that Maritha and Kuda’s child will not live to play football like his hero, Diego Maradona.