What’s the connection between divorce, eviction and trusts?
How heartless does someone have to be to evict his ex-wife’s mother from her home within days of burying her daughter and granddaughter? According to a report in the Sunday World, that’s what happened when Gauteng MEC Dan Mofokeng tried to evict Elizabeth Magubane, 83, and other relatives from the house where his ex-wife, Jacqui Mofokeng, lived prior to her death in April. Jacqui, an ANC MP, passed away a day after her daughter Thato. Elizabeth is Jacqui’s mother. The Mofokengs divorced in 2010 and Jacqui continued to live in the marital home in Irene, Pretoria. While it is legal to evict a family member, one would expect a degree of compassion to prevail, particularly in a sensitive situation such as this.
A lack of trust
The house is actually owned by a trust, the Phoka Trust, and both Dan and Jacqui were registered trustees and beneficiaries. But Jacqui’s name was removed from the trust deed illegally, a fact Jacqui discovered after the divorce. Upon her death, Dan tried to reclaim the property, claiming that Jacqui was not a beneficiary and her family has no right to the property. Why Jacqui did not try to rectify this misdeed a long time ago, we don’t know.
Trusts enjoy certain advantages, which is probably why the property was put into trust. Although many of the tax advantages have disappeared, there are estate planning and continuity benefits. A trust survives the life of an individual (donor/ trustee /beneficiary) and can span multiple generations. We don’t know if Elizabeth is a beneficiary of the trust or not but, if she is, she likely has the right to remain in the house. Read more about trusts here.
Elizabeth Magubane feels threatened by Dan Mofokeng and has applied for a protection order, saying she is scared to remain in the house, as Dan has made it clear he wants her and her relatives out. Protection orders are designed to prevent domestic violence or other intimidating behaviour by spelling out the conduct that is prohibited by the respondent. This usually means keeping a certain distance from the complainant. If the respondent fails to comply with the conditions of the protection order, they are liable to arrest. We usually hear about protection orders in the context of gender-based violence, but they can be used in any situation where someone feels under threat or at risk.
As we write, the situation has not been resolved and the dispute continues.
Cape Town law firm can help with these issues
If you have been affected by any of these issues or want to discuss your options, whether regarding divorce, eviction or trusts, or you think a protection order would help you stay safe, call Cape Town attorney Simon Dippenaar on 086 099 5146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.