“My baby’s father went to go pay lobola for another woman a couple of hours after I gave birth”

Single parenting is a reality faced by millions across the world. Fatherless homes are quite the norm in South Africa. Over 50% of South African households are without a father. A small number of these families have lost a father to death, while the rest of the fathers are alive but absent.

Nonkululeo Sibiya has been very open about how she became a single mother with her third and youngest child Amkelokuhle. Amkelokuhle is 3-years-old now and was born on 14 July 2017.

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During her pregnancy, her then partner was very supportive and excited for the birth of his son. According to Nonkululeko, “he treated me like a queen”. She was spoilt rotten and was supported throughout the pregnancy.

A few hours after Amkelokuhle’s birth, his father left their home and he never came back. Nonkululeko had no idea where he went off to and only found out when her son turned 6-months-old.

Turns out, the baby’s father went to go pay lobola (bride price) for another woman and subsequently had a traditional wedding. She found all this out through his WhatsApp stories.

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This came as a big shock to her because they were living together throughout the pregnancy and she never suspected that he was in the process of paying lobola for someone else.

“I have never been so hurt, humiliated, and embarrassed in my life” she shares in a Facebook post.

Nonkululeko shares her journey so openly because it’s important for her to teach other women that “it can happen to you and nothing in life is guaranteed”. A lot of women dream of weddings, healthy marriages, and solid families. That is not always the case and life throws you punches, knocks you down, but you have no choice but to get up again.

She shares that “I nearly died as stress was taking over my life but I told myself I had a human being I had to think of and take care of.”

She recently posted in the #I’mStaying Facebook group and received words of encouragement from more than 2000 South Africans, getting over 20 000 likes.

Co-parenting challenges

According to Nonkululeko, the child’s father was very supportive until he formally got married. The conflict between herself and the father’s wife has made it difficult for his father to be involved. The wife has to approve any payments made to her for the child and she has completely blocked off access to the child’s father.

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This means that for Nonkululeko and Amkelokuhle, his father is completely absent from their lives. According to her, “he sees the child once or twice a year”.

Child maintenance has become an issue, and Nonkuleleko, a mother of three, has to tend to most of Amkelokuhle’s needs on her own.

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