Father who gambled away millions too ’poor’ to pay maintenance
Pretoria - A wealthy father who spent millions on online gambling and insisted on still driving his luxury BMW, but is too “poor” to pay maintenance towards his two children, is a hair’s breadth away from jail.
A Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, judge gave the father, who may not be identified, until tomorrow to make his first instalment of R30 000 a month in arrears to the mother of his children.
The payments should continue until he had paid the full arrears amount of nearly R538 000. This is apart from the amount which a maintenance court is due to set as a monthly sum. The father is disputing the current amount he has to pay.
Also, in a step to avoid the closing of the jail doors behind him for a month due to contempt of court, the father has to submit a report from a psychologist setting out to what extent, if any, he suffers from a gambling addiction.
The judge ruled that the mother could at any time approach the court to have her former husband committed to jail if he did not deliver on the above orders.
The court made it clear that in paying his arrears, the father was by no means off the hook for any monthly payments regarding maintenance.
The mother turned to court to have him held in contempt of a maintenance order in which he had to pay R7500 per child a month.
This is apart from contributing to their school fees and other expenses.
The father paid for a few months and then simply stopped. His excuse was that he could simply not afford it, despite earning nearly R150 000 a month.
In addition to this, his employer paid R10 000 a month into his retirement fund.
The father said he had debts, which he had to pay first, including R10 000 a month towards his BMW 2-Series. The father was adamant that he could not drive anything else but this vehicle.
The wife alerted the court to the fact that her husband had spent millions over the past few years on online gambling - about 138 000 transactions - of which he had lost most of his money.
The wife spoke to a psychologist about gambling addiction to try to understand the problem, but the husband denied that he had a problem.
Despite his hefty salary, he turned to the maintenance court to have his monthly contributions reduced to R1 000 per child. He later upped his proposal to R2 500 a month per child.
This dispute is still ongoing in that court.
The high court said that apart from saying he could not afford the maintenance set by the court after their divorce in 2017, the father did not say on what he spent his hefty salary; he insisted on driving his BMW and spending about R14 000 a month on online gambling.
The former wife complained that at the time of appearing in this case, her husband was in fact more than R700 000 in arrears with maintenance.
The judge said it was most astounding that the father did not deny his gambling habit, although he disputed an addiction to it, yet he could not pay his maintenance.
The court said it was untenable that the man did not pay anything for months and now claimed he could only afford R1 000 a month per child.
A troubling aspect of the matter was his gambling. The court said it was noteworthy that the father’s case was not that he could not pay, but that he had other creditors standing in line.