Zulu boy allowed to stay in Britain with foster mother

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The Independent Online
A Zulu boy who was brought up by a white foster mother in England but subsequently returned by the courts to his natural parents in South Africa will stay in Britain, it emerged yesterday.

Sifiso Masango, 12, returned to Salome Stopford, the white woman he calls "Mother" last December, with the consent of his natural parents.

Mrs Stopford, 50, a widow who employed the boy's parents when she lived in South Africa, had cared for him since he was 18 months old. She brought him to Britain in March 1992 when she took British citizenship and his parents agreed, for the benefit of his education, on condition that they could visit him and that he maintained his South African links.

They began efforts to have their son returned after discovering in 1994 that Mrs Stopford had tried to adopt him. The decision that Sifiso should be returned to South Africa to live with his natural parents came at a Court of Appeal hearing last May.

Then, the court held that although the boy had lived in England and had known the Mrs Stopford who had brought him up as his "Mother" he should be returned to his natural parents, in the Transvaal, who had been fighting for his return.

Sifiso was eventually returned to South Africa after being removed from one flight at Heathrow airport because he was so upset. Mrs Stopford had remained in touch with the boy's parents, hoping that they would allow him to return, which they did after pressure from the boy himself, last December.

Since then he has not returned to South Africa and yesterday the case returned to the Family Division of the High Court. Mr Justice Kirkwood was told, in a private hearing, that agreement had been reached that Sifiso will, with his natural parents' consent, remain living with Mrs Stopford in Maida Vale, north-west London.Part of the agreement, however, is that he will remain a ward of the High Court.

In a brief statement issued after the hearing, the solicitors Mishcon de Reya, who acted for Sifiso, said: "In December 1996 Sifiso returned to this country to spend Christmas with Mrs Stopford and her family.

"It has now been decided, with the agreement of his natural parents, that Sifiso should remain here and the court has granted a Residence Order to Mrs Stopford. However, Sifiso will be visiting South Africa from time to time to keep in contact with his natural parents."

Jojo Moyes

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