Pretoria - A South African woman who, for decades worked her fingers to the bone for her Serbian husband, will receive a large amount from his estate.
The court also slapped her estranged husband with a punitive costs order.
Despite her apparent efforts, the man said his marriage was a farce and a scam to “deceive God”.
Judge I Opperman, sitting in the high court in Johannesburg, said: “Almost every topic the defendant (the man) touched was tainted with lies, deception and disrespect”
The judge said this included the manner in which he painted his wife as no more than a sex slave to him and an employee in his business, while she was also the mother of his two children.
The judge added that the embarrassment she had to endure during the hearing, coupled with the man’s lies, warranted a special costs order made against him.
While the woman told of their beautiful Serbian wedding, her husband told the court he had never intended to marry her. He said he enjoyed the sex but she was not good enough for him.
He testified that the wedding ceremony had been a prerequisite for the baptism of their daughter. However, the woman said the baptism took place two weeks prior to the wedding ceremony.
He further claimed that the marriage was a “ploy to deceive God into accepting that their daughter had been legitimised by an authentic marriage in his church, while it was in fact a farce”.
The farce, he explained, had two objectives: to deceive God so that the gates of heaven would be opened to their daughter and to deceive the Serbian community so that their daughter would not be labelled a “copile” or “bastard”.
The wedding ceremony took place in a Serbian Orthodox church on December 1, 1991, and was conducted by a bishop.
The wife, who believed this to be a true ceremony, showed the court her wedding pictures. She said that at the time she believed they would grow old together.
But after a marriage of more than 28 years, the couple split up.
The husband tried to prevent his wife from getting any money so she turned to court as she wanted an order that a universal partnership had existed between them during their marriage which would entitle her to some of the assets generated over the time they were together.
The man immigrated from Serbia in 1975 and started an appliance business in South Africa. They met in 1994 when she was 15. During her matric year in 1986, she moved in with him and his family.
She said that she worked in his business after school and at weekends, and they later started and ran a jewellery business. She ploughed all the money back into the household and barely used any for herself.
The husband told the court his wife was simply his employee and thus not entitled to share his estate.
But the judge rejected this and ordered that the husband pay his wife R594000, being 30% of his total assets.
He has been given until the end of February next year at the latest to pay this money over to her.