A 39-year-old Sandton woman is suing her ex-husband’s current wife after she learnt that the two were having an affair while she was still married to him.
The parties are not being named to protect the children involved – the former couple have two.
In papers filed at the Johannesburg High Court, the ex-wife claims the affair destroyed her 13-year-marriage, and she wants R200000 – R100000 for contumelia (impairing her dignity and self-respect) and R100000 for loss of comfort, society and services of her then spouse.
The 29-year-old mistress, who tied the knot with her new partner in June, admits the affair, but hit back, saying that the marriage had already started crumbling when the relationship began.
Plus, she added, the former wife had “condoned the adultery”.
In court papers, she also accused the ex-wife of having affairs of her own. The ex-wife denies this.
In an interview with Sunday World this week, the ex-wife had harsh words for the woman she accuses of stealing her man.
“The once loving man, who would not spend a day without phoning me and the children, now wants nothing to do with me,” she said.
She said she had known her former husband (54) for 17 years and they were “madly in love”.
“He once told me he can’t live without me. We did everything together. Then this woman came and destroyed what I worked hard to build in years,” she said.
Speaking through tears, she said she discovered the illicit relationship two years ago, four months before she and her husband divorced.
“Signs of him cheating were there, but I ignored them. For five years my husband was constantly on ‘business’ trips and didn’t sleep at home,” she said.
Her suspicions were confirmed, she said, when she saw a receipt from a travel agency with information that her husband had been on a “honeymoon” trip to a boutique hotel in Zanzibar.
She said the trip had been booked just weeks after he had moved out of their marital home – and before their divorce had been finalised.
“I suspect their affair started soon after she was employed by the company four years ago. My husband changed. What hurt most [is]. that they tied the knot in Jamaica – the same place my husband promised to take me to,” she said.
But she’s adamant the lawsuit isn’t about money. “This woman took what didn’t belong to her and that is theft,” she said.
The lawyer for her ex-husband and his new wife said such disputes were “highly emotional and subjective”.
“The allegations by the plaintiff have not been tested under cross-examination, nor has evidence been led on the defendant’s version. None of the plaintiff’s allegations against our clients have been proved in a court of law.”
Cape Town lawyer Peter Baker said a person in similar circumstances could sue for up to R500000 for contumelia-related damages, but would have to prove that the third party knew about the marriage before they embarked on a sexual relationship. It’s also necessary to have evidence, such as SMSes or e-mails, of the two declaring their love for each other.
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