A former husband, who didn’t want his ex-wife to benefit from the joint estate during their divorce settlement, failed to convince the Limpopo High Court that their marriage was invalid.

To prove their customary marriage was legal, the wife told the court that she fell pregnant in 1983 and in 1984, her family met with her ex’s family to negotiate lobola.

During the negotiations, she said R180 was paid to her family, R80 was for Thodelangeno, and R100 was for lobola.

In Vha-Venda custom, Thodelangeno is money paid after a woman stays with her boyfriend. The money is to say to the woman’s family that their child is already at her marital home and that they should not search for her anywhere as she is with the “groom”.

After her family accepted the money, there was a celebration to cement their union. She added that she was officially handed over to her in-laws after the festival.

The couple lived together as husband and wife until they separated in 2000 but reconciled in 2007.

They separated again in 2020; this time, the ex-wife instituted divorce proceedings and wanted a joint estate division.

The regional court granted a divorce decree and ordered that the joint estate be divided equally between the two parties.

Unhappy with the ruling, the man approached the high court to appeal the decision.

In his arguments, he disputed the existence of a valid customary marriage and said that he never agreed to the lobola negotiations.

He added that some of the delegation members who represented him were not allowed to represent him, according to his customs.

However, Judge Legodi Phatudi said that the evidence demonstrated that the couple consented to the customary marriage when the ex-wife moved into the ex-husband’s homestead.

“I find it unnecessary to rub in the consent of the parties to their marriage that lasted at least 17 years. Their marriage is blessed with two children ...

“The payment of lobola or lumalo that occurred on December 22, 1984 was ratified to seal the customary marriage the parties concluded during 1983.

“The appellant’s appeal fails and, as a matter of principle, he is liable to the respondent’s cost including costs occasioned by employment of two counsel where applied,” Legodi said in his judgment.