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SOUTH AFRICAN FAMILY HELD HOSTAGE IN CANADA (english)
by Li Tracy
Email: wildwildweb (nospam) telus.net
Address: Vancouver, Canada
13 Nov 2002
A South African family is being held hostage and forced to live in the most atrocious conditions in Vancouver, Canada...
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada:
A South African family is being held hostage and forced to live in the most atrocious conditions because the court system of British Columbia and the office of the Attorney General has seen fit to force a mentally handicapped little girl to live in an environment that poses a grave risk of physical and psychological harm.
Former VIP Protection Officer for the South African Police Services, Inspector Vally Haeck , says that he is seeking international assistance for his family.
They have just received an eviction notice and they have nowhere to go.
His wife, Lisa, and his step-daughter, Sofia, were forced to travel to Vancouver in June 2001.
Lisa Haeck and her daughter were forcibly escorted on an international flight from South Africa to Vancouver. Upon arrival at Vancouver International, they were waved through customs without her passport being stamped or having to show a re-entry permit. Mrs. Haeck and her daughter had been out of the country for 1 year and 1 day and she had publically declared her intention not to return to Canada, but to remain in South Africa with her daughter.
Mrs. Haeck was approached by an RCMP officer and told to report within 24 hours to a police department. She was informed that her failure to do so would result in a warrant for her arrest.
A court order from the highest court in South Africa, the Constitutional Court stated that Mrs. Haeck and her child would not have to leave South Africa until it was certain that no charges would be pending against her for seeking refuge for her daughter and herself in South Africa.
Despite the fact that Crown Counsel had made it known to the State Attorney in South Africa and the Central Authority in British Columbia that a nation wide warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Haeck would be active after 26 April 2001, Mrs. Haeck and her child were forced to return to British Columbia.
Despite an international request from South Africa and a request from within the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Crown Council of BC has made it clear that it plans to prosecute Mrs. Haeck for abduction, according to s.283 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
The trial is set for September 2003.
Mr. Haeck accompanied his wife and step-daughter to British Columbia.
The Haecks were told by the State Attorney of South Africa that they should attend a custody and access trial in British Columbia and then make an application to return to South Africa.
They arrived in Vancouver with two suitcases and enough money for four months. They were informed by the Central Authority of British Columbia that the custody trial could be expedited and heard within three months.
By June 2001, Mr. and Mrs. Haeck had exhausted their assets and were on the verge of bankuptcy.
Mrs. Haeck applied for legal aid for the family trial and was refused, despite the fact that she met the criteria for legal aid. She applied for legal aid for the criminal case and was refused. Her appeals for legal aid were refused.
Mr. and Mrs. Haeck contacted and interviewed over 34 lawyers in Vancouver in an effort to solicit representation.
Only 1 lawyer offered advice regularly on a pro bono basis.
Upon their arrival in Vancouver, it was clear that Mrs. Haeck's ex-husband had not complied with the court order and provided for accomodation or transport.
He had not set dates for trial, and only in January 2002 did the family trial begin.
In the meantime, the Haecks settled Sofia into a little school in Horseshoe Bay. They had chosen to live there because every second weekend they were ordered to drive up to Mt. Currie, BC, 200 kms distance north on Highway 99, in order to fetch their step-daughter after access.
Horseshoe Bay was the closest point, while still providing close proximity to the city.
Mrs. Haeck's ex-husband had approached the court with an application asking that his former spouse and daughter be ordered to live in the same town as him.
The Supreme Court of BC refused to grant this request.
The Haeck's took Sofia to Vancouver Children's Hospital where they requested an assessment for her global developmental delay. Professor Hal Siden observed the little girl and made referrals. By that stage it was understood through several assessments by experts in South African that Sofia was developmentally delayed on a global scale by two years. Although she was five years of age chronologically, her overall ability was that of a 3 year old.
Mrs. Haeck's former spouse had been arrested for spousal assault in June 1998. Later, in May 2000, another Peace Bond was issued for stalking and harassment.
He had shown negligence regarding his daughter's care and Mrs. Haeck feared constantly for her daughter and her own safety.
The Ministry of Children and Families as it was then known, refused to get investigate claims of neglect because it was a "contentious custody dispute".
Shortly after their arrival in Vancouver, the ex-husband deliberately stopped visiting his daughter for two weeks and subsequently went to court with an ex-parte application to have his former spouse arrested if she did not allow access.
The Judge took 10 minutes to grant his request without having observed any evidence that access had been denied.
Between July and December 2001, the child returned after access with unexplained bruises and injuries. Some of these were documented on a hospital file.
On Christmas Day, Mr. and Mrs. Haeck travelled to Mt. Currie to fetch their little girl. A woolen cap was pulled low over her face. She pulled it off and showed that she had several injuries to her face.
Her father said that they were "nothing". He said that she had “fallen off the toilet”, she said that the dog had chased her and scratched her.
Mr. Haeck, having been a police officer for eleven years, suggested that Mrs. Haeck take photographs for evidence.
Thereafter, the child refused to talk to her father on the telephone. Mrs. Haeck consulted the West Vancouver police and the MCF and, based on their advice, she denied access until she was able to return to court in January 2002.
Mr. Haeck was not allowed to work and Mrs. Haeck was unable to maintain employment because she had to prepare legal documentation and presentation for two serious court cases.
The family survived on contributions from friends and a local charity organisation.
In January 2002, without having regarded the photographic evidence, the hospital reports and the police file, Mrs. Haeck was ordered to let her daughter go for access or else she would be arrested.
In January 2002, Mrs. Haeck was forced to represent herself in a grueling trial that lasted 27 days over five months. The trial ended in May 2002.
In the middle of the trial, the Judge took off for a holiday to Italy.
The Judge did acknowledge that Mrs. Haeck was indigent and had no means to support herself.
However, she refused to grant that Mr. Haeck be granted landed status so that he could work to support his family, and she refused to consider the requests for an increase in child support, despite the fact that the ex-spouse had declared in income of $150,000 a year. Of which the majority was of dubious origin. He merely stated that the money was from "friends" in Italy.
The Judge took one month to deliver her Reasons for Judgement which meant that an appeal was delayed.
The Judge ignored the previous history of violence by the ex-spouse and instead stated blatantly that the Haecks had a "campaign" against him.
She ignored the evidence that the child was mentally handicapped and ordered that she stay on his property for two months during the summer.
The Judge misrepresented the truth and disregarded the evidence to such an extent that the Haecks have pursued a Judicial Enquiry by the Judicial Council of Canada in Ottawa.
They state that Judges should not be allowed to desecrate the legal system through such serious misconduct.
Mrs. Haeck's ex-spouse lives alone on a 5 acre property in Owl Ridge, just north of the Native Reserve in Mt. Currie. He is Italian in origin. He has no support to help him with the daily care of his daughter.
During the trial he reported no mood changes in his daughter and refused to acknowledge that she feels pain.
The child suffered undue psychological and physical trauma during the two months ordered residence with her father.
Mrs. Haeck was threatened that if she brought her child home, that she would be arrested.
After the trial the Judge informed them that if they wanted to return to their home in South Africa, that they would have to leave without their child.
Mr. and Mrs. Haeck concede that a child has the right to access with both parents as long as that access is in the best interests of the child.
The child's biological father has shown that he has no intention of placing his daughter's interests above his own.
He has succeeded in manipulating the criminal justice system of British Columbia in order to seek revenge on his ex-wife.
His intentions have impoverished the Haecks and traumatised his own daughter.
While the Haecks have been impoverished through this ordeal in their effort to protect Sofia, he retains a five bedroom home and a luxurious lifestyle.
Mrs. Haeck has been forced to represent herself in the criminal procedings. She tried to bring it to the attention of Crown and the court that her ex-spouse had committed perjury when asking to have his ex-wife incarcerated. She has the evidence that he perjured himself to the police.
In July 2002, Mrs. Haeck approached the Supreme Court of British Columbia with a Rowbotham Application to request that the Attorney General fund the criminal trial.
The Haecks demonstrated to the court that they had been rendered financially destitute due to the litigious nature of the custody procedings and the malicious prosecution of the Crown.
Crown demonstrated, that although they were going to proceed with the prosecution, they had no idea of the details of the case. The Judge had to adjourn so that Crown Counsel could familiarize themselves with the case.
That Judge gave the Attorney General two weeks to either provide funding for legal representation or that they drop the case. He stated that it was clear that the Haecks were financially destitute.
Instead of funding legal representation, the Attorney General passed the buck to legal aid who was able to provide funding for some services by a lawyer. Mr. and Mrs. Haeck would have to do the majority of the work for the trial.
In February 2002, Crown Counsel had asked that the trial be closed to the public and asked for a ban on publications.
Mrs. Haeck informed the Court that the South African public was outraged by these events and had an interest and a right to know. She also stated that the Canadian public had an interest and a right to know about the trial.
That Judge allowed that the trial be open to the public.
Mrs. Haeck tried to maintain employment but was unable to concentrate or attend on a consistent basis due to the incessant harassment by her former spouse and the requirements for preparation for further applications to the Court.
Mr. Haeck was told that he would not be able to receive landed status because of the case pending against his wife. Only recently was he informed that he could make an application under Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds. Mr. Haeck will only recieve permission to accept employment in February 2003.
Mr. Haeck has previously assisted in the protection of Mr. Nelson Mandela, Mr. Thabo Mbeki and other dignitaries in South Africa, as well Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
He has been offered two positions in Vancouver with professional companies in the Protection and Security Industry.
The Haecks are relying on friends to support them financially and morally whilst they seek a solution to their problems.
The Haecks require the services of a lawyer who will work on a contingency basis to bring a civil suit against the Attorney General and financial assistance until Mr. Haeck is able to accept employment.
Mrs. Haeck's ex-spouse seems to have adopted the strategy that many enraged ex-spouses choose: that of revenge.
The Haecks wonder how this course of action can be in their daughter's best interests.
In a newspaper article published in South Africa in September 2001, Mrs. Haeck’s ex-spouse told the press that he would "fight this battle to the bitter end".
Mrs. Haeck said she understands the implied threat because she had been threatened for many years by her former spouse
She says that she is afraid for her child and for herself.
"Why do we have to wait for something terrible to happen to my child before something is done? I was told that there was zero tolerance against domestic violence in Canada. Why then is the legal system helping this man in his insane drive to destroy us?"
If you are able to assist the Haeck family in any way, please contact Li Tracy in Vancouver at Tel: 604. 926 0851 or e-mail at wildwildweb (at) telus.net