conomic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema’s friend and former business partner Lesiba Gwangwa is living large. He has mansions and drives the latest German sedans – but his ex-wife and son are living in abject poverty. The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her son, told City Press that the situation was so bad that they often went to bed hungry. She said last year, her son was served with a notice not to return to school until outstanding school fees had been paid.
City Press has seen the letter of suspension, which was sent to Gwangwa’s ex-wife in October 2014.
Gwangwa divorced his high school sweetheart and wife of three years in September 2010. As part of the divorce settlement, he reportedly made the following undertakings:
R2 000 a month for his son’s maintenance, which would increase by 10% annually, and cover all his medical expenses;
R6 000 a month to his ex-wife, which would be increased by 10% annually, and cover her medical expenses until such time that she had her own medical aid; and
To buy his ex-wife a three-bedroom townhouse and give her a VW Polo, which had been paid for.
According to Gwangwa’s ex-wife, “none have materialised, except for the old car he gave me, which broke down some time ago and has been gathering dust because I can’t afford to have it repaired”.
“Lesiba promised to give me a fully furnished threebedroom townhouse more than five years ago, but I am still waiting for that. I am living with my grandmother and have nothing to show for all the years I spent with him when he was starting his business,” she said.
Gwangwa, who heads On Point Engineering, which was at the centre of a R52 million fraud case against Malema, refused to comment on the allegations made by his ex-wife.
“I am a private person. I don’t talk about my private life. Enjoy your evening,” he said, before hanging up.
Gwangwa’s ex-wife said her revelations were not about sour grapes, but ensuring that “the man who owns mansions, drives Range Rovers and has millions in his name takes care of his son, as he promised to”.
“I was supposed to get half of everything he had, but I made a compromise because I was not greedy.
“Everything he said he would provide for us were basics and meant to ensure that his son had a roof over his head, food on the table and clothes on his back.
“But my son now wears rags because I am unemployed, and don’t have money to buy him proper clothes and school uniforms. We have a hand-to-mouth existence and there are times when I have no idea where the next meal will come from. “What breaks my heart is that Lesiba is living the [good] life, yet his son is suffering,” she explained. Johannesburg attorney Hugh Raichlin said defaulting on maintenance as per a court order or out-of-court settlement was equal to contempt of court.
“In the event that a person fails to pay maintenance as per an agreement, the mother of the child may approach the court. The court may issue a notice for his property to be attached.” These remedies are provided for in sections 27, 28 and 30 of the Maintenance Act (Act 99 of 1998). Section 31 of the act provides for the criminal prosecution of a defaulter.
Raichlin further said if all else failed, “the court may issue a warrant of arrest, but it doesn’t happen often as it may put the child at a disadvantage when the defaulter has been imprisoned”.