Ex-president's bank statements show 'big cash deposits' but he can't be named in divorce proceedings

Deposits to 'Baba' ranged from 76 cents to R90k in cash to a R500k cheque

14 March 2021 - 15:28 By Tania Broughton
A Pietermaritzburg high court judge has ruled that a former president should pay his estranged wife R95,000 monthly plus expenses as part of their interim maintenance agreement.
A Pietermaritzburg high court judge has ruled that a former president should pay his estranged wife R95,000 monthly plus expenses as part of their interim maintenance agreement.
Image: 123RF/3DRENDERINGS

For a former president, who now has to pay his estranged wife R95,000 a month in interim maintenance, every penny must count.

His financial affairs were thrust into the spotlight this week, when she took him to court, and in the process his bank statements were laid bare.

The parties cannot be named because of a blanket ruling by the Constitutional Court, barring disclosure of identities in divorce matters.

The wife initially claimed R170,000 a month but then revised this to R145,000. She alleged he was hiding his assets and, apart from his state pension, he is a wealthy man who has undisclosed interests in other businesses and friends in high places who bankroll him. The court last week ordered he pay her R95,000 a month, plus other expenses, as interim maintenance.

Pietermaritzburg high court acting judge Barry Skinner had the benefit of years' worth of records from Absa, Capitec and First National Bank — subpoenaed by his estranged wife’s legal team — in order to pronounce that he had been less than honest when he claimed his only income was his state pension, about R145,000 a month.

From this, he claimed, he had to pay a bond of R66,000 a month, and support many other relatives.

Judge Skinner took note of many “big cash deposits” and large withdrawals from his account.

But what went unnoticed was a 76c deposit from L Malala, apparently a contribution to his legal fees at the end of 2018.

“We are here Baba”, is the reference for another R100 deposit.

The former president also apparently made a contribution to Greenpeace in January last year.

But a month later, he seemed to have changed his mind, and the R300 was credited back into his account after a “dispute”.

“Dudu” was particularly generous. Last year, on January 7, 9, and 10, she paid three amounts of R50,000 each into his Capitec account.

On January 11, she paid a further R25,000. On the same day, an anonymous benefactor made a cheque deposit of R500,000.

It appears that some of this money — R210,000 — was transferred to VBS Mutual Bank for his bond repayment.

Someone with hard cash deposited R90,000 into his account in “notes” in July last year. In one day, in October 2020, the statements reflect six cash deposits, of R10,000 each and one of R9,700 at the same ATM.

And then in January this year, someone made two same day cash deposits of R19,200 and R14,100. The former president’s lawyers told Judge Skinner they had been “ambushed” by the statements. They questioned their authenticity and said they had not been able to take instructions from their client about them.

His advocate struggled to counter the damage in the bank statements, only saying that there had to be consistency in order to be classified as “income” for the purposes of determining what he could afford and what he couldn’t afford to pay.

After judgment was reserved, they wrote to the judge asking that he hold off on his ruling, because they wanted to submit an affidavit in which their client would explain the many cash deposits, over and above his pension.

But Judge Skinner said he had been the author of his own misfortune: He had not voluntarily put up the bank statements, as was required in Rule 43 (interim maintenance) proceedings and as he had been requested to by his estranged wife, twice, in her sworn statement.

He had also not come to court, nor made himself available to his legal team even though he was aware that the matter had been set down for argument.

“Less than candid”, was how the judge described him.

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