A Johannesburg businessman has been sentenced to six months of imprisonment after repeatedly failing to pay his estranged wife maintenance.
The parties were married in community of property, and they are now embroiled in an acrimonious divorce.
In June 2018, the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, through the Rule 43 application brought by the wife for interim maintenance, ordered the man to pay his wife R30,000 every month.
The wife and their two children were also to continue taking monthly groceries, including meat, fish, pasta, milk, and tinned foods, from the family business supermarket.
He also had to give them an additional R7,000 for groceries.
He was further ordered to continue paying the gardener, DStv, and cellphone accounts belonging to the children, pay for their medical aid, and also maintain their home and swimming pool.
In September 2023, the wife approached the high court and said the husband hadn’t been paying since December 2022.
She argued that he owes R110,997 in respect of her maintenance and grocery allowance, R25,891 in respect of swimming pool and home maintenance, R20,700 in respect of the gardener's salary, R11,140 in respect of cell phone accounts, R47,143 for children’s medical expenses, and R48,768 for her medical costs.
She said her husband has been refusing to pay for her daughter’s university fees, and she has used loans to take her to school, but her fees are outstanding in the amount of R60,951, and if the money is not paid, she will not graduate.
She said she was totally dependent on her husband for maintenance. She provided the court with her bank statement, and she had R106,74 in her account.
In response, the husband said the wife should continue depleting her assets or live on borrowed funds pending the finalisation of the Rule 43 order because it is flawed.
Regarding his daughter’s university fees, he said that they were not part of the Rule 43 order.
Evaluating the evidence, Judge Portia Nkutha-Nkontwana said the husband has treated the Rule 43 order with blatant disdain.
The judge said the man said he was employed by his businesses, yet he failed to provide details of his employment, proof of his earnings, tax deductions, etc.
“Since it is the husband that seeks to excuse his contempt, he ought to have provided this court with comprehensive information about his financial position but dismally failed.”
Furthermore, she said the husband was a repeated contemnor, and there was a reason why he should not be committed to imprisonment.
As a result, the husband was sentenced to six months, which shall be suspended for a year, on the condition that he pays his wife R274,639 within three days.
He was also ordered to comply with the Rule 43 order that was made in 2018 because the order was binding and must be honoured until it is varied or discharged.
He was also ordered to pay the costs of the application.
Most importantly, the Rule 43 Order is binding and must be honoured until it is varied or discharged.