Litigation: Battle of the wives too confusing for court

A former Limpopo traffic officer who died more than 10 years ago left ‘his wives’ in a difficult position as he apparently took his secret to his grave as to which he was married and at which stage, notes a Saturday Star report. The now 79-year-old Maria Mkhari took the other Mrs. Mkhari (no first name given in the judgment) to the Limpopo High Court for an order that Home Affairs register and record the civil marriage between her and the deceased, entered into in the late 1970s. She said her husband paid R70 lobolo for her in the 1960s after their first child was born. According to her, she is the one and only Mrs. Mkhari and the house her husband built for her in Polokwane was hers only. The granny told the court she only discovered the other woman, who claimed to also be Mrs. Mkhari, after her husband’s death, when she went to the Polokwane house to lock it up and to bury her husband.

Mrs. Mkhari 2 was in the house and refused Mrs. Mkhari 1 entry, says the Saturday Star report. She claimed she was the true wife as she had married the deceased a few months before his death. But it came to light during evidence before the court that there was somewhere over the years also a Mrs. Mkhari 3 – whom the deceased at some stage divorced. However, none of the women knew of each other, or that the deceased was married when he married one of them. The only clue there were more than one wife was when the parties checked the medical aid of the deceased and noticed he had more than one wife registered as his dependent. Judge Maake Kganyago conceded the court was unable to establish who was the rightful wife. The judge said the applicant should have called Home Affairs to try to clear up the confusion and turned down the application.

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