Pretoria - A Gauteng man’s “leading astray” of another man’s wife – an affair he and his new lover tried to justify by invoking Biblical texts – will cost him dearly. The Pretoria High Court ordered the wife snatcher pay R75 000 in damages to the now wifeless husband.
Stressing the importance of the sanctity of marriage, Acting Judge Louis Vorster also ordered Renier Heine of Irene to pay 15.5 percent interest a year from the date of the order until the date of payment.
The plaintiff, only identified as DJE Erasmus, instituted the damages claim after his wife Suné Erasmus left him in March 2010 for Heine.
The couple divorced in September 2011 after a six-year marriage.
All three parties told the court they were devoted Christians.
Judge Vorster said the sanctity of marriage – and the obligation it placed on both spouses to engage in sexual activity with one another only within the framework of the marriage – had been recognised in an earlier judgment by the court.
“I am in complete agreement with that decision. It follows that the marital rights of sexual intercourse, affection and devotion of the married parties are still held in high esteem in law…”
The right of an aggrieved party to protect these rights by way of a damages claim, is still part of our law and thus enforceable, he said.
“In this case the sanctity of those rights and obligations is beyond question in view of the Christian faith professed by all the parties.”
The problems started in April 2009 when Suné started working at a pharmaceutical company, where she met Heine, a managing director at an affiliated company. Erasmus told the court he had a happy marriage until the intervention of Heine, which caused his wife to leave him.
Heine said he was not the cause of Suné leaving her husband. She was unhappy before she met him, as her husband was “inconsiderate” towards her. He also denied adultery, but later conceded they had committed adultery twice.
Judge Vorster said he was given family holiday pictures and some photos taken at a wedding ceremony attended by the once-happy couple, as well as a recording of a speech Suné made at her 30th birthday in 2009. A photo taken at the wedding, depicted Suné “happily having a ball” on the dance floor with her then husband, the judge said.
“Those pictures are evidence of a happy marriage, up until at least February 2010,” the judge said.
It was common cause Suné and Heine spent two nights in the same bed at different locations while she was still married, the judge said. Both denied they were sexually intimate on those occasions.
The judge said Suné tried to paint a picture of her husband being “a miser”, who was “sometimes unwilling to pay the bill at restaurants”. But she was unable to explain when shown his credit card reflecting payment for the meal.
She was also upset that he threw a Valentine’s card she had made for him in the bin. But the judge said this was not inconsiderate, as Valentine’s Day was over by then.
Suné was also confronted with her birthday speech, in which she said her husband was her “absolute soulmate” and that she loved him “incredibly much”. She told the court this was just a front put up for their friends and family.
Erasmus meanwhile learned of the affair and confronted Heine. He denied all and said he prayed for Erasmus’s marriage. Those prayers, the judge said, did not bear fruit as the two had continued their affair.