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Adoption Mess

June 2, 2010 permalink

Lebo Mathosa was a star entertainer in post-apartheid South Africa until her death in a car accident in 2006 at the age of 29. She left an estate of a million Rand but no children and no will. Under South African law and custom her parents became her heirs.

Lebo was born to single mother Judy Peter and taken from her on a false promise that she could be reunited with her daughter. Lebo was adopted as an infant by Nomvula Magdeline and Madimetsha Gerriet Mathosa. Peter found her daughter in 1998 when she had her only meeting with Lebo. After Lebo's death the two mothers both claimed the inheritance, a dispute now settled out of court.

Irrespective of which mother is more deserving, this case shows that adoption is not the painless solution for children suggested by its advocates, but that problems can persist well into adulthood.



Lebo’s ‘moms’ settle case

Lebo Mathosa

PRETORIA - A bitter legal battle between deceased singer Lebo Mathosa’s biological mother and her adoptive mother about her estate was yesterday settled in the High Court in Pretoria.

The award-winning kwaito singer’s biological mother, Judy Peter of Port Elizabeth, took her daughter’s adoptive mother, Nomvula Mathosa, to court after it appeared that her daughter had died without leaving a will.

Yesterday, the two mothers settled their differences when it was agreed that Peter would receive R375 000 from her daughter’s estate.

Mathosa senior formally recognised Peter as Lebo’s biological mother, while Peter in turn recognised that Mathosa had raised her daughter as her own.

Peter yesterday told reporters it was never about money, but about being recognised as Lebo’s mother.

Peter, who fell pregnant with Lebo while at school, claimed her daughter was taken away from her and that she was thereafter deliberately excluded from Lebo’s life.

A family friend said Peter had searched for her daughter for years and never knew she was a famous singer until she finally managed to trace and meet her again in 1998.

Peter initially claimed she should be her daughter’s sole heir as her daughter was never legally adopted, but the elderly Mathosa claimed her famous daughter had been adopted in terms of customary law and that she was the sole heir.

Mathosa’s estate, which includes a house in Lyndhurst and royalties from the sale of her music, is estimated to be worth about R1 million.

Peter’s cousin, Litha Zibula, yesterday said the family was “not 100% happy”, but that they accepted the outcome of the case.

“It’s a compromise, but we’re happy that she is now recognised as the mother and that we can now close the mourning period.

“She (Lebo) facilitated a meeting between the two mothers when she was still alive and we believe this was her will.

“We hope after all this that the two families can come together to celebrate her life and ensure that her legacy continues,” he said.

Mathosa, 29, was killed on the N3 near Germiston in October 2007 after the driver of her car apparently lost control of it and hit a tree.

Source: The Citizen (South Africa)