Family row over dad's R20m Lotto win, but court backs him
A WhatsApp message nearly caused the instant multi-millionaire his millions. He had written in the message: “If I get R20 million I can give all my children R1m and remain with R13m”.
He also boasted that his working days were finally over and that he would “just stay at home”.
Unbeknown to the different mothers of his children, he had already “enjoyed the handsome windfall” at that stage.
But the mother of one of his teenage daughters took him up on the offer on seeing the message.
When the man refused to part with “the promised” portion of his winnings, the woman turned to the High Court in Polokwane.
The judge said a promise was a promise, even if it was made via a WhatsApp message and the father was ordered to pay up. The judge at the time said the woman had, in fact, been very reasonable.
But the father would have none of this and approached the Supreme Court of Appeal, which ruled in his favour.
Five judges found that the WhatsApp message did not constitute a binding contact.
The woman said in her court papers that their romantic relationship ended in 2003. He paid R1000 a month maintenance towards their daughter.
The man, who worked for Sars before he received his bonanza, then suddenly told the woman his health was failing and he was going to resign.
He said that as he was due to receive his pension money, he would pay her a once-off amount of R100 000 as settlement for the maintenance.
He paid her the R100 000 in January 2016, but remained tight-lipped he had won R20.8m six months prior to that.
The woman saw his message on social media and realised he was now a multi-millionaire. She reckoned he still owed her R900000 to make up the R1m. The man denied he had won the Lotto and claimed he had never sent the message. However, he had to spill the beans once she took him to court.
The woman stated in court papers she simply wanted the R1m promised to her child. She wanted the R900 000.
The man told the court in Polokwane he had paid the promised R100 000 - and did not owe her a cent more.
But that court said the WhatsApp message was clearly an offer to pay each child R1m. Thus, it was said, he was contractually obliged to pay the money.
The Supreme Court took a different view and said the message did not say he would give each child R1m; it rather stated a hypothetical scenario that if he ever won the Lotto, he would part with some of the money. The court concluded that the message clearly did not contain an offer that could be converted into an enforceable agreement.