Two widows in bitter tussle over share of house of a spouse

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Sep 14, 2020

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THE TUG-of-war between two widows over their share of a house is proof of the Pablo Picasso quote that one should ’only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone’.

A Limpopo high court acting judge quoted the famous 20th century Spanish artist in ruling on the case between two women over a house in Polokwane.

After Noko Koko died, his widow Kgabo Koko turned to court to allow her to continue to live in the house they had shared in the Limpopo capital before his death. But Noko had previously been married to Grace Koko, and the house was jointly registered in their names.

Kgabo told the court that despite being part owner of the house on paper, Grace did not have any right to it as she and Noko had paid for its upkeep.

Grace and Noko were divorced in 2001, and the court ordered at the time that their joint estate be divided between them. Grace left the house they had sared while Noko stayed on.

While he kept up the bond repayments and the municipal rates and other expenses, the property remained registered in both their names. It appeared that they had been unable to agree on the value of the property and the amount he should out to his ex wife.

Kgabo said while she had been married to Noko, they improved the house and paid for its maintenance. She argued in court that Grace did not make financial contributions towards the home loan or the improvements to the house and was therefore not entitled to half the value of the property.

She said Grace's share should in stead be limited to what she would have got at the time of the divorce, not now.

But Grace insisted she was half-owner and was therefore entitled to half the value of the property, given that the joint estate of her and her former husband had not yet been divided at the time of his death.

The court found that, in as much as co-owners share the expenses of a property, they are entitled to share in the benefits that accrue to the property as well.

For this reason, Grace was entitled to half the current value of the property, while Kgabo can claim back from this for the expenses she and her late husband had incurred over the years.

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