Cape Town - A multi-millionaire who has refused to comply with a maintenance order, directing him to pay just over R430 000 in maintenance a month, is facing prison for being in contempt of court.
The parties involved in the litigation are still married but are currently before court in divorce proceedings.
The husband – who according to court papers has gone on luxurious vacations to Greece, Cyprus and France, over the period June until September 2022, but said he cannot afford the monthly maintenance due to a change in his personal circumstances – was accused of having been in wilful contempt after the maintenance order was issued last year.
The large portion of the said amount is a R280 000 bond instalment on an immovable property situated in Mooikloof, Pretoria – where the wife lives.
In the introduction to his judgment, Acting High Court Judge Matthews Mojapelo, said: “ ‘Jail for me.
Nothing for you.’ These are the words that were communicated to the (wife) who had just obtained a maintenance order in terms of Rule 43 against the author of those words, the (husband) in this matter. From then on it became an uphill battle for the applicant to get the first respondent to comply with the maintenance order.”
It is the wife’s case that her husband was in wilful default as he, according to the wife, is able to afford the maintenance as per the court order but chooses otherwise. The husband had submitted a “general denial” of the allegations.
According to the judgment, within a week of the order the wife received a message from her husband which stated: “Jail for me, nothing for you, I do not have that kind of money anymore”.
According to the husband, after the maintenance order was issued, there was a drastic change in his income “as his companies are no longer generating income” and he had, since the order was issued, appealed for a variation of the order but this was unsuccessful in the magistrate’s court.
According to the husband he could no longer afford the property he lives at and would move in with his parents after obtaining employment which will allow him a “steady income”.
However, his wife had submitted, in addition to being able to afford the lavish holidays, the court had also found that he had a monthly income of just over R1.1 million and “recently sold two properties for approximately R13 million – yet he continues with his refusal to comply with the orders”.
Acting Judge Mojapelo said: “In the circumstances, I find that the first respondent is in contempt of the Court order of Molefe J of May 11, 2022.
What makes the (husband’s) position more untenable is the fact that this court has already found him to be in contempt of the order by Molefe J, that is, the order by Ndlokovane AJ of June 17, 2022.
There is no attempt to purge that order. In that order, the first respondent was already committed to prison. I still do not understand why the committal part of the order was not carried out. That however, explains the general frustration that the applicant and most people in her position armed with maintenance orders in their favour are suffering daily.”
Judge Mojapelo ordered the husband to be committed to imprisonment for a contempt of court for a period of 90 days which committal is suspended in its entirety for a period of two years, on condition that he complies with the maintenance order within 72 hours after judgment.