A former President has maintained that he cannot afford to pay his estranged wife R95,000 per month as interim maintenance pending their divorce.
The Pietermaritzburg high court ordered him to pay the amount last week after his wife filed a Rule 43 (interim maintenance) application, which was heard earlier this month.
During the hearings, she produced the ex-President’s bank statements, which showed large deposits and withdrawals from his accounts, often in cash.
Deposits ‘were donations’
Arguing in court through his lawyers on Tuesday, the ex-President said Judge Barry Skinner had misinterpreted the statements in his ruling.
He argued that these deposits were “contributions and donations from sympathetic members of the public or donor organisations who support me politically.”
Therefore, they should not be interpreted as “income,” he argued, adding that the interim maintenance should be reduced to R20,000 – which is what he had proposed during the application’s initial hearings.
He argued that he does much of his banking through cash and deposits and that he stopped a R66,000 monthly debit order for a VBS Bank bond in favour of direct deposits and transfers.
He explained, “In as much as the learned judge drew a number of negative inferences from several cash withdrawals and deposits from my account, they are proof about making direct cash deposits to pay large debts such as VBS.”
The former President argued that VBS had instituted legal proceedings linked to the R7 million bond and he could lose his home if he did not pay. In addition, he owes R13 million in legal fees.
He also gives money to relatives on a monthly basis and he does this in cash. “As a politician and leader in the community, I allow donors and contributors to make direct deposits into my personal accounts as I have nothing to hide,” he added.
The ex-President’s wife has opposed his application, arguing that Rule 43 rulings are not appealable and can only be “varied” after a change in financial circumstances.
She accused him of not being frank about the legal fees he owed. “There are no entries reflecting payment of legal fees in his bank statements going back almost three years,” she said.
The court adjourned the matter until June. The parties cannot be named following a Constitutional Court ruling preventing the naming of parties in divorce matters.