Utatakho: Raising another man’s kid

Mention the slang phrase “hands ball” to anyone and chances are they will give you a naughty smile and know exactly what you are talking about.

The term has been commonly used to describe men who have been duped into believing that certain kids are theirs, whereas the women concerned knew that wasn’t the case.

The Utatakho reality series presented by Nimrod Nkosi on Mzansi Magic has showcased a lot of these instances, where we have witnessed alleged fathers devastated at the DNA results that proved they had been taken for a ride. What propels a woman to deceive a man like that and, from the man’s perspective, how does it feel to be betrayed, and what are the ripple effects of this deceitful act?

We spoke to psychologist Shirley Engelbrecht, who helped us to lift the curtain on this sensitive issue.

But first Enos Mdlalose*, a 48-year-old father of two sons tells us his sad tale.

Mdlalose says he found out in 2013 that his then 17-year old first-born son was not biologically his. But what blew us away about Mdlalose’s story was his love that made him forgive his wife and his choice to stay with her.

Mdlalose’s woes began after he performed a secret DNA test which confirmed his fears.

“My wife and I went through a rough patch in our marriage, and got into a lot of arguments as a result. Then, we found out that my son was heading down the wrong path, smoking dagga and missing curfew.

“I would discipline him a lot, but my wife would always jump to his defence, which caused us to fight more. After one of our bitter arguments, she blurted out that he wasn’t my son.

“At first, I took it as just words said in anger but, as time went on, it started to eat me up inside. I decided to just put my feelings to rest, and paid up to R3000 for a DNA test, using his toothbrush. The results came back and confirmed that he wasn’t mine.”

Mdlalose says that when he confronted his wife with the results, she tried to refute them, but eventually caved in and confessed to everything.

Mdlalose’s wife claimed she had conceived the child with her ex, and Mdlalose came into the picture immediately after they broke up. This, he says, made him feel a bit better – that the child was not conceived as a result of her cheating on him.

“It was hard to come to terms with this but in my eyes he is my son, and nothing will change that. My wife and I made the decision not to tell him or anyone else, and we are currently trying to get our married life back on track. Have I forgiven her? Yes. But it will take time for us to be back to our normal selves.”

Engelbrecht says it is commendable of Mdlalose to forgive his wife, as well as to accept the child as his, despite the evidence saying otherwise.

“Some men have an innate ego that would render them accepting to raise another man’s child impossible. This is a cultural issue in some instances, and in most cases, it is caused by feelings of being indignant about the matter.

“Of course, feelings of anger and betrayal are inevitable when a man finds out that a child is not his. Firstly, it is the lie that scathes the most.

“The general feeling is that whatever moments were spent together before the lie was revealed can be seen as fake . ”

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