Secret divorce shock

LOST OUT: Gloria Mailula was evicted from her house. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 12/07/2009. © Sowetan.
20090712VNH.    Gloria Mailula says her husband obtained a divorce decree behind her back.PHOTO:VELI NHLAPO.
LOST OUT: Gloria Mailula was evicted from her house. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 12/07/2009. © Sowetan. 20090712VNH. Gloria Mailula says her husband obtained a divorce decree behind her back.PHOTO:VELI NHLAPO.

THOUSANDS of women are sitting at home happily kissing their husbands, oblivious to the fact that the men they wake up next to every morning have secretly divorced them years ago.

THOUSANDS of women are sitting at home happily kissing their husbands, oblivious to the fact that the men they wake up next to every morning have secretly divorced them years ago.

The courts are dealing with a growing number of cases in which women are battling to reverse divorce decrees granted to their husbands without their knowledge.

Sowetan is aware of six cases at present in the Johannesburg family court. But a highly placed justice department official says there are hundreds of such cases in the country's courts.

"In most cases the wives discover by chance that they have been divorced or that their husbands are in the process of divorcing them.

"Others discover it after their husbands have died, while some only find out when they are being evicted from their homes by new owners after their husbands have sold the house," he said.

"These men sneak to the courts, where they are granted divorce decrees without their wives being aware of it," he said.

The source went on: "These women lose out despite being married in community of property."

Gloria Mailula of Moletsane, Soweto, told Sowetan she got the shock of her life when her husband slapped her with a divorce decree after a tiff.

"I don't know how he got the divorce because I was never summoned to court.

"I was surprised when strangers came to evict me, saying they had bought my house from my husband," Mailula said.

According to a copy of a divorce decree dated August 10 2007, Mailula forfeited their house to her estranged husband, Richard Mailula, despite the fact that the two were married in community of property.

The Johannesburg family court's senior magistrate, Daniel Thulare, confirmed that the practice was rife.

"I have reported this to the Department of Justice. Married people, particularly women, must check with Home Affairs to ascertain if those marriage certificates hanging on their walls are still valid in law.

"Those who discover that they have been divorced without their knowledge should approach their nearest magistrate's court or the Legal Aid Board offices," Thulare said.

Fatima Mokoena of Zacharia Park, south of Johannesburg, and Catherine Molotsi of Diepkloof, Soweto, say they too were dealt a similar blow by their husbands.

Mokoena said she became aware of the secret divorce during an argument with her husband of 18 years, Joseph Mokoena.

"He called the police and told them to evict me because he had a divorce decree," she said.

The divorce was later confirmed by Home Affairs.

"He has kicked me out of the house but I am still paying the bond," she said.

When contacted for comment yesterday, Mokoena said: "You can go on with the story. I am not going to tell you my side."

According to court records, Catherine Molotsi and Papa Molotsi were granted two conflicting divorce decrees by the same court on different dates.

Catherine said she queried the first decree as it was granted in her absence.

She was granted another decree stipulating that they share their joint estate.

"He has kicked me out of our house," she said.

Another alleged victim is Magdelene Molotsi, who was married to Bishop Abbey Molotsi of God Spirit Church.

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