Malawi's supreme court overturns earlier rejection


SINGER MADONNA won permission yesterday to adopt a second child from Malawi after the country’s highest court overturned an earlier decision rejecting her application.

The supreme court of appeal said the pop star was free to adopt four-year-old Chifundo “Mercy” James, despite not having lived in Malawi for 18 to 24 months, as the law requires.

Chief justice Lovemore Munlo said the initial decision by the high court in April to reject Madonna’s application had failed to take account of modern realities. “In this global village, a man can have more than one place at which he resides,” the judge said in the ruling.

He said Madonna’s commitment to disadvantaged children – she established the Raising Malawi charity that serves 25,000 orphaned or vulnerable children – should have been taken into account.

The American singer adopted a 13-month-old boy David Banda in Malawi in 2006. At the time, local critics accused her of using her fame to sidestep regulations after she was given permission to take the child to London before the adoption was finalised in 2008.

Alan Chinula, Madonna’s lawyer, said yesterday that she sounded “excited at the news” of the judge’s decision. Mr Chinula said he was arranging a passport for the child, and awaiting word on travel plans.

Eye of the Child, a local group opposing the adoption, said that the residency rules were necessary to avoid child abuse, and that foreign adoptions should be a last resort. Maxwell Matewele, executive director of the organisation, said it was disappointed by the ruling.