A Malawi official accuses another of requesting money from the star

By Caris Davis
Updated August 06, 2007 08:40 AM
Karel Prinsloo/AP

The adoption hell that Madonna faced last fall in the African nation of Malawi may be flaring up all over again – amid reports that the star’s custody of young David Banda could be in fresh jeopardy.

At issue is Malawi’s minister for Women and Child Development, Kate Kainja, refusing to let the country’s Child Welfare Services director Penstone Kilembe go to London to check in on David and his new family, Reuters reports.

Kainja’s move is based on her accusation that Kilembe obtained an air ticket and money from Madonna without government approval.

Kilembe, who already missed a scheduled May 2007 visit to assess David’s progress in London, had hoped to be in the British capital before in September. (David also turns 2 next month.)

According to Reuters, Kilembe confirmed to the weekly Malawi News that the minister had forbidden him from flying to London – but dismissed suggestions that he personally requested an air ticket from Madonna.

“You know it requires some resources for me to travel,” Kilembe is quoted as saying. “What this means is that the whole adoption process may crumble and David sent back to his village.”

Madonna’s publicist, Liz Rosenberg, declined to comment on the latest reports, except to say: “The adoption process is going well. The current info in the media is not accurate.”

A Malawi court granted London residents Madonna, 48, and husband Guy Ritchie, 38, temporary custody of David after his biological father, Yohane Banda, had placed the boy in an orphanage following the death of his wife.

Justin Dzonzi, an attorney who led a 67-member protest group challenging Madonna‘s adoption, agreed that Kainja’s decision could effectively send David back to Africa.

“The Minister cannot change what the court set by having another person to do the assessment. The court will not listen to anyone else apart from the one it appointed,” he said.

Dzonzi filed suit in which he argued that Malawi laws forbid international adoption, therefore making it illegal for the government to grant interim custody of David to Madonna.

Judges in Malawi had planned to rely on Kilembe’s testimony before ruling next year whether Madonna’s interim adoption of the child should get the green light.