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'Father' enters row over adoption

MALAWI'S highest court began deliberating on Madonna's bid to adopt a 3-year-old girl from the southern African country, as a dispute erupted over whether a man trying to stop the proceedings is the girl's father.

Madonna was not at yesterday's closed-door hearing at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, and a ruling may not be announced for several days.

Madonna found the girl in 2006 at Kondanani Children's Village, an orphanage in the southern town of Bvumbwe just south of the commercial capital of Blantyre.

A man has now claimed that he is the girl's father, and he has sought help from the Malawi Law Society to stop the adoption taking place.

James Kambewa, a 24-year-old security guard, acknowledged he had never seen the child who, according to court documents, was placed in the orphanage when her 14-year-old mother died a few weeks after giving birth.

But Kambewa said he now wanted to claim custody.

"I may be poor, but I think I have what it takes to raise a daughter," he said.

The brother of the girl's mother says the family does not know Kambewa. "How can he claim he is the father when he hasn't been around all this time?" said Peter Baneti, who said the girl was put in the orphanage because there was no one to breast-feed her.


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