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Widow loses claim

courtNat Molomo

MASERU — The High Court has dismissed a bid by widow who deserted her husband for seven years to claim a right to the late husband’s estate and the right to bury him.

The ruling finally paved the way for the burial of ’Mano Felix Tšosane yesterday at Pulane Ha Mosiuoa, Berea.

‘Matumo Tšosane, the first wife, had tried to stop the burial of ‘Mano who died last month after having worked in the mines in Rustenburg, South Africa for years.

‘Matumo, in her court papers, wanted ‘Malikoebe Tšosane and her mother-in-law ‘Matau Tšosane, to tell the court why they may not be ordered to hand the body of her husband ‘Mano to her so that she would bury him.

She further wanted ‘Malikoebe and ‘Ma­tau to explain to the court why she (Matumo), being the first wife of the late ‘Mano, may not be his lawful widow entitled to his estate.

The application was dismissed by Jus­tice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane on Friday.

The court quoted the Sesotho saying that “Lentsoe la Mofu le aheloa Lesaka,” meaning “the wish of the deceased should be respected.”

This comes in the wake of submissions by the second wife ‘Malikoebe that the late ‘Mano had nominated her as his benefi­ciary on the nomination form.

On the Employment Bureau of Africa Limited (Teba) Nomination Form, the late ‘Mano had nominated his second wife ‘Malikoebe as the beneficiary to her estate.

‘Matumo had cited ‘Matau her moth­er-in-law and Teba Bank (Teyateyaneng branch), a bank operated by a mine recruiting agency, as respondents.

‘Matumo and her husband had differ­ences which led to her deserting him for seven years.

‘Matumo had approached the court for an order calling upon ‘Malikoebe, ‘Matau and Teba Bank in Teyateyaneng, why the bank may not be ordered to deny ‘Malikoebe (the second wife) access to the benefits of the late ‘Mano until the court has finalised the dispute.

‘Matumo also challenged the right of the second wife and their mother-in-law to bury ‘Mano without consulting her.

‘Matumo’s lawyer Advocate Monaheng Mphakoanyane had indicated that unless the court granted her the relief she urgently sought, ‘Malikoebe and ‘Matau would spend all the money due to the deceased and disadvantage his minor daughter Po­ello Ts’osane.

‘Matumo said she was joined to ‘Mano in matrimony in a civil marriage in 1994.

But in 2006 they had separated and she went to her maiden home with their only daughter.

“Since 2006 until he met his death in October 2013 my deceased husband never made any attempts to get me back home, let alone maintain me and our daughter,” ‘Matumo said .

She learnt of her husband’s death from her sister, who happens to be the chief’s wife at Pulane, Ha Mosiuoa in Berea where ‘Mano was buried yesterday.

According to ‘Matumo, when she went to her matrimonial home on November 10, 2013 to mourn the death of her husband, her mother-in-law told her that ‘Malikoebe is the deceased’s wife not her (‘Matumo).

‘Matumo argued that ‘Malikoebe and her late husband have no children whereas she had their only daughter who would be disadvantaged if her husband’s estate fell into the hands of her mother-in-law and ‘Malikoebe.

On her part ‘Malikoebe said: “The correct position is that I married the late ‘Mano Felix Tšosane around the year 2008 under customary rites”.

She indicated that when she got married to the deceased, she was not aware that he was married to ‘Matumo and that their marriage was still valid.

“I am the lawful beneficiary to the death benefits of the deceased,” she said.

She attached a Teba Nomination Form filled by the late husband ‘Mano, showing herself ‘Malikoebe as a beneficiary to his estate.

‘Malikoebe stated that ‘Matumo had not stayed with the late husband for seven years and she gave no single reason she did not return to their matrimonial home.

As far as the benefits accruing to the dead man at Teba are concerned, Advocate Letuka Molati argued in court that according to the principle relating to contract of the third party, ‘Mano had entered into contract with Teba for the benefit of his second wife.

He pointed out that according to this principle the person who is nominated is the one who gets the money and the right to receive it at Teba.

“It is not based on marital relationship or status, but on who has been appointed as beneficiary,” Molati said, adding that ‘Mano had not lived with ‘Matumo as man and wife for seven years.

“On paper they were still married but physically they were not married, they were living apart,” he said.

They court ordered that the application be dismissed with no order as to costs.

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