Prega Govender & Werner Swart | TIMES LIVE
HUMAN Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has come out publicly to vehemently deny claims by his estranged wife in their messy divorce.
Sexwale responded via his lawyer to claims by his wife, Judy, in court papers that he physically and emotionally abused her. The couple would have celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary tomorrow.
In the affidavit Judy Sexwale alleged: “There have been problems in the marriage which the parties have been unable to resolve, including but not limited to [Sexwale] having subjected [me] to physical, verbal, mental [and] emotional abuse and cruelty.”
Celebrity divorce lawyer Professor Billy Gundelfinger, who was instructed by Tokyo to publicly identify him as the minister at the centre of the divorce battle, said Sexwale rejected as “false” the allegations made by his wife relating to his conduct.
Details of the divorce were revealed in newspapers on Friday, but the parties were not named. However, Sexwale was repeatedly asked on social media platforms if he was involved in the divorce.
In an unprecedented move, Gundelfinger said Sexwale had authorised him to publicly confirm the divorce, adding that all the allegations would be “fully ventilated” at the trial.
Commenting on Sexwale’s decision to go public, his spokesman, Chris Vick, said it was necessary “in the interests of transparency, to end speculation and to avoid a guessing game around which cabinet member may be involved”.
Judy Sexwale’s lawyer, Beverley Clark, said her client would have preferred thedivorce to be handled in “an entirely discreet and dignified manner”.
“But this has unfortunately proved impossible, as her husband is paying her only minimal maintenance and is not willing to discuss any reasonable sort of settlement to bring the matter to finality,” Clark said.
“The parties are married in community of property, and I don’t have to tell you that they are well known to be one of the wealthiest families in the country.
“It does not seem fair that Judy is having to rent a tiny flat while her husband enjoys himself at their many multimillion-rand homes and other assets,” Clark said.
“Although she is obliged in court papers to give reasons for the breakdown of the marriage and stands by the allegations made in her pleadings, she gave such reasons extremely briefly and hopes never to have to delve further into this aspect.”
Clark said Judy did not believe her and Tokyo’s personal history was a matter for public consumption. “Theirs was in many ways a great love story and they are proud to have two wonderful children.”
Gundelfinger said it was regrettable that Judy, “a wealthy woman”, would be claiming that she was receiving only minimal maintenance.
He said Tokyo had made payments to his wife of “several millions”. “She clearly has the financial means to provide herself with accommodation of her choice,” he said, adding that Judy was living in a Sandton hotel.
Gundelfinger said Tokyo had gone to court because attempts to settle the divorce amicably had failed.
The divorce will see a showdown between two of the country’s top divorce lawyers in Gundelfinger and Clark. Clark describes herself in an online profile as specialising in “complex ‘big money’ cases”.
Tokyo issued summons against Judy – with whom he has two children aged 19 and 20 – for divorce on October 2 last year.
He stated in his summons that the marriage had irretrievably broken down and that there was no prospect of a reconciliation.
Details of Judy’s intended claim are included in an affidavit in which she says she wants, among other things, a R70-million house, R3-million to furnish it, a new R1-million car every five years and monthly maintenance of R150000.
Judy, who described herself in court papers as a homemaker, accuses Tokyo of trying to hide his wealth from her. She is a trustee of the family trust. She said Tokyo had been “controlling and secretive” about his financial affairs.
After leaving his post as Gauteng premier in 1998, Tokyo went on to become one of the country’s richest men after founding Mvelaphanda.
Judy brought an application this week for an order declaring the assets of the trusts to be viewed as assets of their joint estate as well as an order for the assets to be divided equally.
A close friend of Judy’s said she felt she was entitled to half of the wealth because she had been “a caring and loving wife”.
The couple met while Tokyo was incarcerated on Robben Island.
Judy, then a young paralegal, was assisting him in his trial on charges of terrorism. The two married in 1993, three years after his release from prison.
After Tokyo was appointed the first premier of South Africa’s richest province, the two became regulars on the social scene.
The late Sunday Times social columnist Gwen Gill fondly referred to them as a “gem of a couple” and often praised Judy’s fashion sense.
Judy endured a traumatic experience in October 2007 when she was held at gunpoint outside their son’s school in Johannesburg.
A relative of Tokyo’s said: “To the outside world, Tokyo may be known as a warrior. But we all know that at home, he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Prega Govender & Werner Swart | TIMES LIVE- SME South Africa