Ex-wife versus deputy minister
A DEPUTY minister is embroiled in a bitter divorce battle with his ex-wife in a case that could set a precedent for women in the Eastern Cape.
The 47-year-old unemployed mother of two adult children has revealed in an explosive affidavit filed in the Constitutional Court that her husband disregarded her as an equal, reduced her to an inferior being; no more than a child, and not equal to a man.
“… He set the (bad) example of how men should treat women in the area of the former Transkei,” stated the ex-wife’s affidavit.
She said as grounds for divorce the deputy minister claimed she refused to obey him regarding matrimonial matters.
“The respondent (the deputy minister) fathered children outside our marriage, which is true. The respondent states that he has no knowledge of these children, but even if it had been true, this could never constitute grounds for divorce,” she explained.
The ex-wife complained: “Human dignity insofar as the paternalistic society in the former Transkei sees me as an object that should be obedient to my husband, not complain about his sexual relationships outside our marriage and without a right to maintenance or sharing in assets, which I helped build or preserve.”
The deputy minister’s ex-wife is taking her fight for some of her husband’s assets to the Constitutional Court. The divorce was finalised in an Eastern Cape regional court in 2014 in the ex-wife’s absence and without her having any knowledge that the matter would be before the court, her legal papers claim.
“In finalising the divorce without my knowledge I was prejudiced in that my version of events was never placed before the court and my claim for maintenance was never considered,” she said.
The deputy minister later appealed to the Eastern Cape High Court, which also declared the marriage in community of property.
The ex-wife said that during the course of their civil marriage, the deputy minister illegally entered into a customary marriage with a younger woman. The deputy minister has refused to admit or deny the allegation that he entered into a customary marriage.
However, during a subsequent investigation by the office of the family advocate, the deputy minister admitted that he illegally married his new wife and provided details.
“The respondent knows full well that a civil marriage bars all further marriages. Yet he saw fit to enter into an illegal customary union, thereby causing a breakdown of our marriage as well as ruining the life of another vulnerable woman,” the ex-wife added.
She said she wants to show the Concourt how women are abused in the paternalistic setting of the former Transkei.
In his response, the deputy minister said he and his ex-wife were ad idem (agreement to the same thing) regarding the dissolution of their marriage, issues of a guilty spouse and maintenance of the innocent spouse were never issues for consideration at all.
He said his ex-wife’s application was baseless, hypothetical with no practical effect on the parties and therefore lacked substance.
The ex-wife said she was in such a precarious financial position that her previous attorneys withdrew because she had insufficient funds.