US actor faces charges over illegal adoption of Zim child

by Sunday News Online | Sunday, Dec 6, 2015 | 779 views
Chris Rock and daughter Ntombi

Chris Rock and daughter Ntombi

A TOP US actor Chris Rock is facing criminal investigation for illegally adopting a child with Zimbabwean roots.

According to media reports, Rock is facing a full-scale criminal investigation over raising the little girl at his American home for almost seven years without adopting her. The girl was born by a Zimbabwean woman and a South African man. Her parents live in South Africa where the actor took the child, about seven years ago.

The comedian and his estranged wife’s relationship with Ntombi-futhi Samantha is being looked into by an elite South African police unit over concerns she was taken out of the country without proper legal procedures being followed.

One officer compared the potential offence to ‘‘child trafficking’’. The seven-year-old had been part of Rock’s family since November 2008, when he and Malaak Compton-Rock brought her from South Africa to live in their home in Alpine, New Jersey, one of America’s most affluent areas, with their two biological daughters.

Compton-Rock subsequently described the South African girl as one of the couple’s three children. But the comedian and his philanthropist wife split last year, and the girl’s legal status has now become part of the divorce.

Compton-Rock is now in the process of legally adopting the child in the United States, while it has been reported that the girl entered the US on a leisure travel visa, not as a prospective adoptee. Her lawyer last week told the media in the US that there was nothing wrong with the “adoption” as the processing of papers was underway, further dismissing prospects of prosecution.

However, MailOnline revealed that the Hawks, South Africa’s elite police unit, has become involved in the wider investigation already under way in South Africa.

Government agencies were alerted by American authorities to questions over the girl’s legal status and have asked for answers — leading to the issue being raised with the country’s elite police unit.

A member of the Hawks team — which is tasked with investigating South Africa’s most high profile and sensitive crimes — confirmed to MailOnline the case had been raised in a recent meeting after the country’s interior ministry — the Department of Home Affairs — began its own probe.

“It sounded like a strange case and it has been flagged up to us. We are awaiting more details from Home Affairs who are looking into how this came about,” the detective told MailOnline.

“Whatever arrangement there was between the Rocks and the parents of the child, laws are in place to prevent parents from allowing their children to travel overseas indefinitely with third parties. It seems there has not been regular contact with the biological parents and if money changed hands, or even gifts in return for the child staying with other people overseas, it sounds very much like child trafficking,” they added.

A spokesman for South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs confirmed that it was now investigating the issue, along with the department of Social Development. Neither has criminal powers.

They will have to get to the bottom of a series of conflicting claims about the girl made by Compton-Rock. In 2010 Rock stirred up speculation that the little girl was a secret love child after he was photographed leaving New York City’s Trump International Hotel with her.

His spokesman at that point told People magazine at the time that she was “the daughter of a family friend from South Africa who Compton-Rock met through her charity endeavours.”

Later that year philanthropist Compton-Rock told the mybrownbaby blog: “My brown babies are Lola Simone and Zahra Savannah. We also have Ntombi, who is two years old and from South Africa. She visits our family often and is our pride and joy.”

But she dedicated her 2010 book If It Takes a Village, Build One to Rock and “my daughters” Lola Simone, Zahra Savannah and Ntombi-futhi Samantha. She said Ntombi was the “newest addition to our family.”

The girl was enrolled in a school in New Jersey, has been on family holidays and is a regular with the couple’s “other” daughters at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles.

At an LA Lakers’ game she watched from the front row on Rock’s knee. And in 2013 she was pictured with Compton-Rock on holiday in Hawaii.

To adopt a child in South Africa, would-be parents must follow four steps. They must submit an application through an accredited adoption agency.

They are then screened in meetings with a social worker, have medical examinations, marriage and psychological assessments, home visits and police checks. Adopters are then usually put onto a waiting list. Finally their application goes through the children’s court, where the adoption will be agreed by a judge.

Adopting internationally is more complicated with the application being made in the US in the case of the Rocks.

Rock’s wife has been involved in charity work. In 2008 she began the Angel Rock Project and described the charity as ‘‘an e-village promoting everything to do with service, humanity, peace, equality, social responsibility, and sustainable change’’.

The same year she launched Journey For Change, which saw ‘‘at risk’’ children taken from New York, to Johannesburg for a fortnight in August.

During the trip, the group visited the Salvation Army Bushwick Community Centre, as well as Diepsloot and Soweto townships. A month earlier, her now-estranged husband had been in the country to do four dates in his No Apologies tour, with the final two nights in Johannesburg.

Ntombi was born in February of that year. It is unclear when the Rocks met her parents in South Africa — but the first picture of the girl appeared on Compton-Rock’s Facebook page in August of the same year.

It is believed that they met the girl for the first time in June when she was four months old. In November, when she was nine months, they took her home to New Jersey.

Ntombi’s natural father, MailOnline can reveal, is Crispen Khanyile, who was working as a waiter at the luxury five-star Saxon Hotel in Sandhurst in Johannesburg in June 2008. It has been claimed that Rock was staying at the Saxon in June and had been served by Khanyile, who befriended the star. A hotel source told MailOnline how Khanyile was a fan of the comedian and had brought his two daughters to the hotel to meet him.

The hotel source revealed: “Crispen is a friendly guy. He came to know Chris and the conversation turned to their children. A day or so later, Crispen brought his kids in to meet him.”

Khanyile, originally from KwaZulu-Natal on the east coast, is now unemployed and is an amateur photographer. He runs a Facebook page called Dr Love offering love and sex advice.

He has separated from Ntombi’s mother Thusang Precious Ndebele, who is from Zimbabwe and lives in a run-down flat in Johannesburg. The couple have three children. Last year private investigators were hired — it is not clear by whom — to trace Ntombi’s natural parents. Ndebele was found to be living alone in a dilapidated flat in a block in downtown Johannesburg.
It was described by the investigation team as “not conducive to human living, not safe for children.” The investigators reported that she locked the children alone in their tiny flat for hours while she travelled to the Diepsloot township on the edge of the crime-ridden city to sell second-hand clothes on a stall.

Kingdom Mabena, who has worked as a caretaker at the block for years, said the mother and children had moved out some months ago.

He told MailOnline: “She didn’t have any money, she was poor, like the rest of us.” When MailOnline called Ndebele she refused to comment on the adoption of her middle daughter. The girl’s father also declined to say anything when approached.

Representatives for Rock did not respond to requests for comment. —DailyMail.co.uk/Sunday News Reporter.

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