A former top government official has forfeited most of her share in her wealthy ex-husband’s estate in terms of a ruling in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
The woman demanded half of the assets of her former businessman husband after obtaining a high court order that they had concluded a customary marriage in community of property.
The husband maintained his former wife was not entitled to any share of his assets after a marriage of only 20 months.
Judge Jody Kollapen ruled that the woman forfeited all matrimonial benefits of the marriage, except for half of the value of the husband’s R2.9 million property in Highveld Estates in Centurion.
The woman owned a property in Irene valued at R2 million when they were married, while her former husband owned two properties worth R4.4 million, various shareholdings, two luxury cars and a classic motorcycle.
He also bought a further property worth R5.5 million in Midstream during the course of their marriage while she sold her Irene home and kept the profits for herself.
The former wife maintained her ex-spouse was guilty of substantial misconduct as he often stayed out late, had once throttled her and burnt their wedding photographs. She suspected him of an extra-marital affair.
Judge Kollapen said the husband had acquired all of the assets of the joint estate from his own resources and most of them before the marriage.
It was clear that most of their marriage had been characterised by conflict and that his conduct was not the only reason for the breakdown, as both of them had spent time outside the marital home.
He said there was no evidence that the throttling incident and burning of the photographs were deliberate and the husband’s failure to pay sufficient attention to the needs of his family could hardly constitute substantial misconduct.
The judge said given the short duration of the marriage, the wife would unduly benefit if an order for forfeiture was not made, although she was entitled to some benefits because the birth of her child had a detrimental effect on her work.