Tug of war for Modise estate

Late IPHC leader’s second wife heads to court for her cut of his wealth

A bitter legal war has broken out between the widows of the late International Pentecost Holiness Church (IPHC) leader, Glayton Modise, over the division of the clergyman’s whopping R164-million personal estate.

Modise, who led South Africa’s second-biggest church after the Zion Christian Church, died intestate (without a will) in 2016.

At the time of his death, he was in a civil marriage with first wife, Mirriam Modise and a religious polygamous union with second wife Pearl Tafu Modise.

But the executors of his estate have refused to recognise Pearl as his second wife and excluded her as a beneficiary.

While poor Pearl is getting zilch, Mirriam will inherit over R81-mil lion – which is made up of over R78-million in assets and more than R3-million in liquid cash.

Mirriam’s children, Jenette Khumalo, Sebitse Mabasela, Tshepiso Modise, Leonard Modise and Julia Modise will inherit over R13.5-million in liquid cash and assets each.

The shocking news is contained in a semi-urgent application filed earlier this month in the Joburg High Court by Pearl.

According to the application, she is seeking a court order declaring the Intestate Succession Act No. 81 of 1987 inconsistent with the constitution and invalid.

She argues in the court application that the act does not recognise or include more than one spouse in polygamous marriages solemnised by the International Pentecost Holiness Church.

She is also seeking an order declaring the Maintenance of Surviving Spouse invalid and inconsistent with the constitution as it
doesn’t recognise her as “surviving spouse”.

Pearl has also asked for an order to force the executors to recognise her as Modise’s dependent, if they don’t recognise her as his wife, so that she can benefit from his estate.

She said Modise used to give her R200 000 a month for her personal needs.

She has also sought an order interdicting the executors from distributing the funds from the estate until the courts have ruled on her application.

In the papers, Pearl said she walked with Modise down the aisle in a religious polygamous marriage when she was 18 years old.

She said when she wedded him at a ceremony, which was attended by at least 100 000 guests from the church, she was aware that he was married to Mirriam in civil marriage.

She said the marriage was solemnised by their church as religious polygamous marriages are recognised by it and are practised by man church members.

She admitted that although married, their type of marriage is not recognised in South Africa.

“The question again arises, whether or not being so married to the late M G Modise, I am entitled to the same protection that other women including Muslim widows have under Section 1 of the Intestate Succession Act when their husbands die without a will. Simply put, I am advised that the nonrecognition of my marriage would constitute unfair discrimination in respect of widows of polygamous IPHC marriages because failure to include such widows within the ambit of the act would thus result in unfair differentiating between different types of widows,” reads the papers.

The application will be heard on January 22 2020. Mirriam’s lawyer, Emmanuel Lekgau, said although they have not received the summons, they will defend the application.

“Modise was married to Mirriam in a civil marriage and you know that if you are married in a civil marriage you can’t enter into another marriage in terms of the laws of this country. So the so-called marriage Pearl is talking about was not a marriage. So we will defend the application,” he said.

By Ngwako Malatji

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