10 May 2009
Uncle offered money for niece after web advert
Madonna’s bid to adopt a baby girl from an African orphanage has been rocked by a cash-for-care scandal at the children’s home.
The uncle of a two-year-old told a court in Malawi a couple who want to adopt his niece had offered him money.
It was also claimed Teresa Misomali had been illegally advertised for adoption on the internet while living at the Kondanani Children’s Village.
Madonna, 50, is trying to adopt Mercy James, three, from the same orphanage. But James Kambewa – who says he is Mercy’s real dad – has vowed to fight the singer’s bid.
And he is convinced Teresa’s case will help him when judges rule this week on Madonna’s plea to adopt Mercy.
James, 24, said: “I’m using this as part of my battle to stop Madonna. The case of Teresa shows what may be going on at the orphanage. I am concerned.”
The cash row came to light last week at Malawi’s Child Justice Court in Blantyre.
Teresa’s uncle Charles Kapecha claimed a couple trying to adopt her offered him cash when he opposed their plan. And a probation officer told the court the couple had first spotted Teresa on the internet.
One of the tot’s aunts also claimed she was offered a new house if she backed the adoption.
The case has now been referred to Malawi’s High Court.
Orphanage staff angrily deny all the money and internet claims.
Boss Annie Chikhwaza said: “It’s a lie spread by a welfare officer who wanted money to finish off his home but we refused.” Despite the denial, James hopes the claims will sway judges to back him – not Madonna.
The £1-a-day security guard said: “She may have a lot of money and influence but she doesn’t have justice on her side.” Lawyers for Madonna say there is no evidence James is Mercy’s real father.
He vanished after her birth and left her to be taken in by the orphanage when her mum died.
But now he has vowed to take a DNA test to prove he’s the dad.
Madonna lost her first bid to adopt Mercy when a judge ruled she did not qualify because she had not lived in Malawi for the previous 18 months.
The same rule was waived last year when she adopted David Banda, three, as a brother for Lourdes, 12, and Rocco, eight.
A Madonna aide declined to comment on Teresa but said she was confident of winning her appeal.