Highest court unable to deal with maintenance case where father might lose house for second time

08 November 2017 - 15:30 By Ernest Mabuza
“Everybody needs to know that the patience of any court is not endless if there is no compliance with court orders‚” Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said.
Lady Justice “Everybody needs to know that the patience of any court is not endless if there is no compliance with court orders‚” Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

For the second time‚ the Constitutional Court was unable to hear an appeal by a father whose house is to be attached to satisfy a debt for failing to pay maintenance for his child.

The court did not hear the merits of his appeal because he had failed to comply with an order passed by the court when it was due to hear the matter in August.

On August 29‚ the court ordered the father to pay R150 000. Additionally‚ the father was ordered to pay maintenance for three months from September.

The father‚ Mr S‚ and the mother‚ Ms V-S‚ were granted divorce in 2010.

As part of the settlement‚ the father had to pay monthly maintenance and half the share of the child’s school fees‚ medical expenses and other costs.

However‚ Mr S stopped paying maintenance for the child in December 2012‚ forcing Ms V-S to approach the court to recover money from Mr S. She obtained an execution order in the sum of R306,000 against her former husband.

When the sheriff failed to obtain movable property to satisfy the debt‚ Ms V-S obtained a high court order which authorised the attachment of his house to satisfy the debt.

The Supreme Court of Appeal denied Mr S’s application for leave to appeal.

The issue before the Constitutional Court was, whether the maintenance agreement in the divorce order constituted a judgment debt.

When the court was due to deal with Mr S’s application for the second time on Wednesday‚ it heard that he had not complied with the August court order. He had only paid the R150,000‚ and not the additional amounts.

This seemed to anger the Constitutional Court justices‚ who seemed unwilling to hear an appeal from a person who had not complied with a court order.

“Everybody needs to know that the patience of any court is not endless if there is no compliance with court orders‚” Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said. He said a matter which should have been dealt with and finalised in a single sitting now needed three court days to deal with.

Zondo‚ who chaired the hearing – which only dealt with whether the appeal should be heard – reserved judgment.

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