Being spiteful comes at a price

Being spiteful comes at a price. Picture: File

Being spiteful comes at a price. Picture: File

Published Mar 13, 2024


Being spiteful can sometimes come at a high price, as a man discovered after he had transferred R610 000 to his girlfriend’s account all in a bid to hide the money from his estranged wife so that she could not share in it as part of their divorce proceedings.

While the husband, only identified as HW, freely admitted to the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, that the payment was a “ruse to deprive his wife of that money” in their forthcoming divorce, the now also estranged girlfriend, identified as RS, claimed it is a gift.

According to her, he gave her the money to be used for her business.

As she refused to pay the money back, both HW and his estranged wife, who had meanwhile got wind of her husband’s spitefulness, turned to court to get the money back.

The husband told the court that he accepted that, although he never intended the money to go anywhere near RS’ business, that was in fact where it ended up. According to him the money was a loan to her so that it did not reflect in his financial statements before a divorce court.

RS’ case was that the amount advanced to her was a gift, not a loan. Its purpose was to help her pay her business debts, and to free her of her business obligations, enabling her to close her business down.

Judge Stuart Wilson earlier could not come to a ruling in either party’s favour and he dismissed the application.

The estranged husband and wife, however, are set on getting their money back and they now turned back to court for leave to appeal against his order.

In deciding on the matter, the judge said he earlier found that HW was not an impressive witness, and that his evidence ought to be treated with circumspection. “Particularly as his entire case was based on a plan to deceive his wife.”

But, on the other hand, the judge also did not particularly favour the evidence of the former lover.

Counsel for the husband laid great emphasis on a series of WhatsApp exchanges in which RS consistently failed to deny that the R610 000 was a loan and not a gift.

He also relied on an entry in RS’s company’s books of account that recorded the transaction as a loan. This documentary evidence was enough, the advocate argued, to create the reasonable prospect that an appeal court will conclude that judgment should have been granted in favour of the husband.

The advocate said that RS never advanced an explanation for her failure to deny that HW had loaned her the money in the WhatsApp exchange, or for recording the money as a loan in her business account.

But Judge Wilsdon said RS did in fact explain why she failed to deny HW’s assertions that he loaned her the money.

She said that the assertions were made at a time when her relationship with him was collapsing, and that she saw those assertions as acts of spite with which she did not engage in order to avoid conflict.

She explained her later half-hearted assurance that she would repay HW when she was back “on her feet” as an attempt to mollify him. She also explained that her decision to record the money as a loan to her business was taken on the advice of her bookkeeper for tax purposes.

Judge Wilson found neither of these explanations particularly convincing, but he said he could not entirely reject them.

“They were not so poor as to raise my level of confidence in the evidence of RW, whose self-serving and deceitful conduct hangs over every aspect of this case … ”

But, the judge said, notwithstanding the very poor quality of RW’s evidence, perhaps another court should look at the issues again on appeal.

A full court consisting of three judges will now have to decide whether the money was a “spiteful loan” or a gift.

Pretoria News

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