‘Golddigger’getlessthanshe bargained for in divorce ruling

ZELDA VENTER zelda.venter@inl.co.za



African News Agency



THE short-lived marriage between a former political science student and a high-ranking member of the provincial legislature 39 years her senior ended up in divorce and the woman forfeiting half their joint estate. The woman told the high court in Bloemfontein that their marriage was on the rocks as they did not see eye to eye on things. The husband, who is also a grandfather, said he suspected she married him for his money and political connections. He also suspected she was embarrassed to be seen in public with him. The woman turned to court to obtain a divorce order, coupled with an order that half their joint estate – mostly his money – should go to her. In a counter-application, the husband asked that she forfeit the benefits. The couple were married in community of property. It appeared that this was not what the husband had intended, but because the wife was so busy, they never got around to addressing the marriage regime until they had split up. The parties married in October 2019 and separated 11 months later. But in this time they lived only for a fraction of the time together. They also cohabited on and off before their marriage. The wife testified that they met in 2012, while she was a political science student and he a high-ranking member of the provincial legislature. In 2014, they were engaged and, a few months later, their relationship ended. They resumed their relationship again towards the end of 2014. In early 2015, they leased premises in an upmarket suburb in Bloemfontein and had a child together. Two years later, the wife bought a property in her own name; she said they were often estranged from each other. At that time, the husband had three properties of his own. At the end of June 2019, they were in a more definite relationship. The wife testified that they had a short discussion about how they would get married, although they did not specifically agree that they would be married in community of property. As a result of her busy schedule, they would register the marriage and then have a celebration at a later stage. The parties registered their marriage in October 2019, but then lived separately until January 2020. They again lived together for a short while, but the wife said she wanted to move back to her luxury stand-alone house. The defendant lived in a unit in a group of residences. Shortly afterwards, they broke up. The wife said she was, among other things, fed-up with him maintaining his ex-wife and grandchildren. The husband, on the other hand, said the age difference between them was one of the problems. He also believed the wife married him to enhance her financial position. He said the demands made on him were extravagant and beyond his financial capability. The court noted that both parties had immovable properties and cars registered in their names at the commencement of the marriage. The husband also has a capital sum of R5 million, which is his living annuity. The wife has investments, shares and savings which total about R100 000. The court said there was nothing to dispute the husband’s version that the wife would benefit from the division of the joint estate if the forfeiture order was not granted. The judge noted that, all in all, it was a 14-month marriage. They acted independently of each other and managed their separate estates. The court also noted the age gap and the husband’s claims that he believed the wife wanted to cash-in on him and advance herself in the political arena through his influence. The husband said the wife thought he was rich, as he travelled abroad and often ate at restaurants, but the truth was that his employer carried the expenses. The court said that having observed the parties when they testified, and having considered the content of their testimony, it must agree that the wife was young and impressionable. “She appeared to be imageconscious and ambitious, and wanted to assert herself as being financially and emotionally independent, while utilising the resource that she had in the defendant to assist her to accelerate her progress,” Acting Judge AK Ramlal said, granting the husband the forfeiture order.