Columnists Features

Is it fair for courts to reward adultery?

THIS Sunday I am venturing into delicate grounds. Yes, I have decided to stir the hornet’s nest by questioning some of the judgments coming out of our local courts in marital disputes.
I am appointing myself as the spokesperson for all the men who agree with me on this matter.
Boldly but politely, I am raising the red flag at their worships, the local court magistrates, to draw their attention to an injustice that seems to be taking root in Zambia.
The victims of this injustice are men.
Honestly, I don’t know what to call my article. It could be a petition, an appeal, a complaint or concern, whatever you may call it.
But it reflects the feelings of many men as regards the issue of alimony, the money the court orders a person to pay regularly to a wife or husband after divorcing.
It was last week when I ‘dragged’ myself into my favourite refreshment joint at Levy shopping mall in Lusaka to, as usual, cool off with some fruit juice after clearing a punishing work load at the office.
I found about half a dozen men and three women huddled over the counter locked in a heated discussion, of course aided by the effects of the liquor they had imbibed.
The contentious issue was whether a husband should share equally the family finances and assets with a former wife after he has divorced her for committing adultery, and compensate her financially on top of that.
All but one man and one woman were condemning the judgment in which a local court magistrate had ordered that the family finance and property be shared equally between a man and his former wife.
The court had just dissolved the marriage after the husband sued his wife for committing adultery several times with his workmate.
He had unearthed a cache of amorous text messages which his wife had been exchanging with her lover without her knowledge.
Based on the information he started watching her movements and behaviour closely.
During the hearing the man complained to the court that his former wife would deny him his conjugal rights giving all kinds of excuses.
“She would be in a jovial mood the whole day, but when it was time to go to bed she would suddenly start complaining of a headache, stomachache, exhaustion and many others,” he had told the three magistrates hearing his case according to a newspaper report.
“Some of the excuses were not only funny but annoying as well. She would tell me that she had over-eaten and, therefore, could not manage to give me what I wanted,” the man testified. “But what she did not know was that I was aware of why she was behaving like that; that she was having a good time with another man.”
The man had described in detail how he set a trap for the wife, lying that he was going out of town and would be back after two days.
He paid three people to monitor her movements during the day and followed her himself after sunset until she entered a lodge with her lover.
With the help of a lodge worker he knew the number of the room in which the love birds were nesting, gorging themselves on forbidden fruits.
Pretending to be a worker he knocked on the door and lied that he had some documents the guest needed to sign.
The unsuspecting philanderer opened the door. With the element of surprise the ‘owner’ of the woman pushed him back inside and held him at knife point while his shocked lover looked on.
Before the two lovers could recover from the shock the man grabbed their clothes, and called the three ruffians he had hired to help him subdue his rival.
Brushing aside the pleas for forgiveness by the naked lovers he took several pictures of them in bed and ordered them to board his motor vehicle.
Under heavy guard by the toughies he drove the two to the woman’s parents in one of the densely populated townships of Lusaka and dumped them there.
It was a salacious story that could hold you captive throughout the reading.
The man had kept the public gallery of the court alive throughout his testimony.
When it was her time to tell her side of the story, or to refute what her husband had told the court the crestfallen woman only apologised to the man and promised to reform.
“It was stupid of me. I will never do it again if you forgive me,” she mumbled amid murmurs of disapproval from the gallery, mainly from her fellow women.
But the man insisted that he had nothing more to do with the woman and asked the court to dissolve their marriage so that she could enjoy her love affair with his workmate.
After castigating the woman for her immoral conduct and ingratitude towards her husband, the court dissolved the marriage, saying it had broken down irretrievably.
But to the man’s shock the magistrate ordered the man to compensate his adulterous wife and that their property be shared equally between them.
He found the order unfair, but his protests were harshly quelled with a threat to be locked up. The court told him that if he was not happy with its decision he could apply to the subordinate court.
Don’t miss the next edition of your favourite Sunday Mail.

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