Father of Three Sentenced to Jail for Ignoring Court Orders on Maintenance Payments

A father of three from Mafikeng, South Africa, has been sentenced to three months in jail for failing to adhere to court orders requiring him to pay maintenance towards his wife and children following their divorce [1].

The couple had been married in community of property from 2002 until 2014 when the divorce decree was granted. The husband, an accountant and businessman, was the sole director of an accounting firm. As part of the settlement agreement, he had agreed to purchase a family home valued at R3 million for his wife and children, a Sport Utility Vehicle valued at R1.8 million for her, and provide her with R1 million towards renovations to another property [1]. However, the husband failed to honor his commitments, which were made orders of court, and it was calculated that he owed her R7,386,324 [1].

The wife had earlier obtained a warrant of execution against the husband for the outstanding amount, resulting in the attachment of some of his assets valued at R9.6 million. Additionally, the court granted a garnishee order against his dividends in his accounting company. Despite these orders, the husband did not comply, leading to contempt of court proceedings [1].

Acting Judge J Morgan of the North West High Court, sitting in Mafikeng, found the husband willfully in contempt of court and ordered him to report to the station commander at Mafikeng police station to begin serving his three-month sentence. Should the father fail to comply, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been ordered to take all necessary steps to deliver him to jail [1].

In his ruling, Acting Judge Morgan emphasized that contempt of court proceedings exist to protect the rule of law and the authority of the judiciary. He stated that the authority of courts and obedience to their orders depend on public trust and respect for the courts [1]. This case serves as a reminder that maintenance orders must be taken seriously and that failure to comply with them can result in severe consequences.


[1] Law For All. (n.d.). Jail Time in South Africa: What Crimes Get You What Time? Retrieved from https://www.lawforall.co.za/arrest-crimes/jail-time-south-africa/

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