Former president's bank statements, submitted to court, disprove claim that he only lives off his pension

Bank statements for a former president show that he earns more than just his pension. Stock photo.
Bank statements for a former president show that he earns more than just his pension. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/LEON SWART

Lawyers acting for a former president claimed this week  they had been “ambushed” when his bank statements were handed in to court in an attempt to rebuff his claims that he could only afford to pay his estranged wife R20,000 a month in maintenance.

The statements, which were handed in to court, show large amounts of money coming in and out of his accounts — contrary to his pleaded version that he only receives his state pension.

The “Rule 43” (interim maintenance) application came before Pietermaritzburg high court acting judge Barry Skinner on Tuesday. He heard arguments from lawyers for both sides as to what he should pay her ahead of the finalisation of their divorce, which has yet to be set down in court.

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 has now revised this to R145,000. She alleges that he is 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.

He denies this. He says he only receives his state pension (of about R143,000 a month) and he has to pay a bond of R66,000 and support other relatives from this. He accuses her of not disclosing her income and of living beyond her means.

When the matter was first called, her advocate, Sian Clarence, told judge Skinner that after he had failed to give a full and frank disclosure of his financial situation, including producing his bank statements, his legal team had sent subpoenas to “every bank in SA”.

Two, Absa and Capitec, had complied. Another, First National Bank, had not. She said the intention was to apply for a warrant to force the bank to comply but she asked that the matter stand down.

FNB then complied and when the matter was recalled, copies of all the bank statements were given to the judge.

Advocate Zinhle Buthelezi, for the former president, argued that this was an “ambush”. She first questioned the authenticity of the statements, which she later retracted, and said she had not been able to take instructions about their contents.

But Skinner said Rule 43 proceedings were intended to be “robust and quick”.

“He was called upon to provide his bank statements and he did not. He expressly said that he had no other income [apart from his pension] but the statements show otherwise.”

He directed the matter to proceed.

His lifestyle does not match anything he says. It’s implausible that he can only pay her R20,000.
Advocate Sian Clarence

Pointing out “red flags” in the statements, Clarence said, for example, that between January 7 and January 11 last year — “four days” — R685,000 had been paid into his Capitec account and there was a “pattern” of other payments, including one for R90,000 in July.

The FNB statements reflected credits of R32,000 in September and R100,000 in October, “both cash”.

“These show that he must have other sources of income. And we don’t see the payment of the bond on any of these accounts, so it is possible there is another account we don’t know of.”

She said he had also not disclosed a monthly payment of R16,739 through a Sanlam-related product.

In August 2020, she said, he closed his Absa account and withdrew the balance of R209,000 “and that amount did not reflect” on his other bank statements as a deposit.

She asked the judge to take note of the fact that as at March 4 this year, the FNB account, which he appeared to be using regularly, had a balance of R240,000.

“His lifestyle does not match anything he says. It’s implausible that he can only pay her R20,000.”

Buthelezi said there were “big gaps” between some of the credits in the account and, in order for them to be deemed income, there had to be consistency.

Regarding the credit balance on March 4, she said it appeared that at that time, none of his expenses had been paid.

“She is asking for an excessive amount ... he will be left with nothing.”

Judgment was reserved.

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