News / South Africa / Courts

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
26 Jan 2019
6:25 am

Woman gets court order against Portuguese embassy in quest to find dad

Ilse de Lange

The High Court in Pretoria directed the Portuguese embassy to disclose any information they might have about Avelino da Paixao, 74.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Moneyweb

A Pretoria woman has obtained a court order against the Portuguese embassy in an attempt to trace the father she has been longing to meet since she was a child.

Judge Cassim Sardiwalla this week granted an order in the High Court in Pretoria to Elsabe de Bruyn of Hercules and her elderly mother, Catharine Smit, directing the Portuguese embassy to disclose any information they might have about Avelino da Paixao, 74, and his last known whereabouts in South Africa and in Portugal.

De Bruyn said in court papers she was born from unwed parents in Pretoria in 1973, but never knew her father and grew up with her grandmother, who cared for her when her mother was at work.

She started asking questions about her father from a young age, but Smit initially told her he was “Koos”, a soldier who died in Namibia, whose body was never found and whose personal belongings and pictures she had destroyed.

De Bruyn often heard her mother’s brothers arguing with her and mentioning the word “Portuguese”, which left her mother in tears, and remembered an uncle contemptuously calling her “a Portuguese”.

Years later, her mother admitted that her father was a Portuguese man she had met in the 1970s while he worked at a family supermarket in Booysens, but who wanted nothing to do with them when she fell pregnant.

De Bruyn made numerous attempts to trace her father and appointed tracers who called owners of the supermarket, but they weren’t cooperating and appeared to be hiding information, claiming Da Paixao – whom she suspected was her father – had left years ago and had apparently passed away.

She said she always had a very deep desire to meet her father and his family and find out more about her Portuguese heritage.

Her three sons, De Bruyn added, were also eager to meet their grandfather and other members, but that she had no desire to claim money or maintenance from them.

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