Pretoria - A love triangle in which a man’s first wife claimed she was still married to him and asked that his marriage to his second wife be annulled, left a Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, judge unimpressed.
The judge said the second wife was innocently dragged into this legal wrangle, which was brought in bad faith. The judge concluded that the application was “an egregious abuse of the court process”.
It all started with an application launched by Rosina Mahlangu against the man she called her husband, Lucas Ntuli, and his second wife, Precious Ntuli.
Mahlangu wanted the court to order Home Affairs to register the customary marriage between her and Ntuli and annul his second marriage.
The couple, who married in 2007, had split up when Ntuli married his second wife a few years later. But Mahlangu claimed the Ntulis were never legally married as she was still married to Ntuli when he married his second wife.
While Mahlangu and Ntuli’s marriage was never registered with the Department of Home Affairs, Mahlangu said it was in force as they had concluded their lobola negotiations.
She said the marriage was celebrated according to Nguni cultural rites in that the families negotiated lobola for an amount of R8 600 plus three live cattle. Ntuli’s family thereafter paid R7 400, and the balance was to be paid later.
Mahlangu said she was handed over to his family and they were allowed to live as husband and wife, although this customary marriage was never registered.
Mahlangu said she left the communal home around 2018 as she had had enough of her husband. She claimed they discussed reuniting but never got around to it.
According to Mahlangu, she only discovered that Ntuli again got married a year later when she went to the Home Affairs offices enquiring about her marital status.
She told the court that Ntuli entered into a civil marriage at Home Affairs without her consent while still married to her in community of property.
Precious Ntuli, meanwhile, disputed that a customary marriage had been concluded between Mahlangu and Ntuli.
Precious Ntuli claimed that her husband now wanted to divorce her. She claimed he and Mahlangu colluded in this application so that he could get out of his financial obligations towards her.
She said her husband had assured her all along that he and Mahlangu had never been married.
The husband, meanwhile, remained mum throughout this legal wrangle.
Judge JS Nyathi said Mahlangu brought this application some six years after she had left the marital home she shared with Ntuli. The judge said this delay had not been satisfactorily explained. “The first respondent (the husband) is the common denominator in the two marriages, irrespective of their validity or otherwise.
“His version is noticeably absent in this litigation between the two women in his life. His reticence lends credence to the averments made by the third respondent (Precious Ntuli), that he is the protagonist behind this application, and is funding the application for his own selfish ends,” Judge Nyathi said.
The judge said Mahlangu was asking the court to essentially grant a decree of divorce by annulling the civil marriage between the Ntulis and for Home Affairs to register her marriage to Ntuli.