Pretoria – A now divorced man has lost out on his portion of his wife’s state pension, their house and all of which formed part of their joint estate because he never contributed towards the household.
When he received his pension fund payout some years ago, he also did not share a penny with his wife or children.
The wife, who works for a government agency, turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to obtain a divorce. As they were married in community of property, she also asked the court not to divide the assets – all hers – between them. The wife asked the court to order the husband forfeit his half of the assets, due to “substantial misconduct”.
This was because he used his R270 000 (K293,223) pension money when he was earlier fired from his job for himself and not towards the joint estate.
It was argued that if he did receive 50% of their joint estate, he would “unduly benefit” in relation to the wife.
While both parties levelled accusations of infidelity against each other over the years, Acting Judge IP Ngobese could not find any evidence to substantiate these allegations.
These alleged extra-marital affairs did surface during the court proceedings, but the wife did not rely on that when she asked that her husband forfeit his portion of the estate.
She said she bought their house, the car and worked hard towards her pension fund. The husband, on the other hand, hardly contributed anything. When he eventually did receive his pension, he did not share it.
The husband said his wife had a lucrative job in government, but he was a pastor who relied on hand-outs from members of his flock, which he said amounted to between R200 (K217) and R500 (K542) a month.
The pair got married in 2006, and in 2012 the wife got a government posting in Germany. Her husband refused to relocate and lived in their home, which she paid for in South Africa. While she was in Germany his only contribution was paying for the electricity in the house. When she returned from her posting in 2016, she was told that he had fathered a child with another woman – a claim he had denied.
He said she had two affairs and that one of her lovers moved in with her when he moved out of the house in 2017.
The judge commented that while the wife was an impressive witness, the same could not be said of the husband, who was evasive and tended to exaggerate.
Judge Ngobese, in referring to the adultery allegations, cited a previous judgment in which a judge said that adultery and desertion may in certain instances be the symptoms, and not the cause, of a marriage breakdown and that the conduct of the parties could not be considered to be blameworthy.
But the judge said in this case the wife was not asking that the husband lose his portion because of his affair, but simply because he did not contribute towards the household, thus he should not unduly benefit when they divorced.
In this case, the judge said, the husband’s misconduct resulted in him forfeiting his half of his wife’s government pension fund, as well as their matrimonial home and the car.