Cape Town – The old adage hell has no fury like a woman scorned rang true for a cheating winelands farmer when his betrayed wife laid charges against him of engaging in prostitution .
It is believed to be the first such case in South Africa.
The drama is unfolding in the small picturesque town of Bonnievale.
The angry 54-year-old wife, who does not want to be named, recorded the confessions of 10 sex workers from surrounding towns, Robertson, Worcester and Ashton, on her cellphone before going to police.
The footage shows the women, who gave their consent to be filmed, detailing their sexual escapades with the farmer. Seehaam Samaai from the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) said she and her colleagues had never heard of a case in which a wife charged her husband with engaging in prostitution. The centre has provided legal services to hundreds of sex workers since it was founded in 1998.
Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said the woman “opened a case of prostitutional (sic) behaviour against her husband on December 12.
“The case is still under investigation”.
The woman said when she married the cattle farmer she imagined a quiet life on his farm.
She was attracted to his sense of humour, his strong Christian values and a desire to settle down.
The two were married for two and a half years.
They travelled the Kruger National Park, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. At home, she cooked and cleaned. When he had two heart attacks and was diagnosed with cancer, she nursed him.
But when she heard her 68-year-old husband whispering on his cellphone she grew suspicious.
Then one day he inadvertantly left his phone on after a conversation with her and she listened to his activities in his bakkie. She was shocked to hear him allegedly propositioning other women. Incensed, she approached street sex workers from nearby towns, showed them a picture of her husband and asked if they knew him.
It emerged that some of them knew him and said he paid them between R50 to R250 for sexual favours.
She said: “I did my own detective work. I don’t like stories. I had to find out for myself.”
In December, she and two sex workers confronted him. She claimed her husband hurled abuse at them, and threatened one of the sex workers. He got angry and asked ‘What the hell are you doing here?’”
The woman and the sex worker laid assault charges against him.
Captain Van Wyk said the assault investigation was complete and a prosecutor would decide if he should stand trial.
Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato became embroiled in the saga when the farmer’s wife contacted him and pleaded with him over coffee to help her secure the prostitution charge.
Plato told Weekend Argus: “Police should actually trap him.”
When the woman discovered last year what her husband had been up to, she was hospitalised for five days and heavily sedated. She lived with a friend for a while and was put on anti-depressants.
Dressed smartly with flawless make-up she told the Weekend Argus: “I’ve been humiliated. I’m married to a man with two personalities.
“He complained I wasn’t feeding him properly. He didn’t want me to go out. We’d go on holiday for three weeks, but I felt trapped at home. He wanted a slave.
“He tells me he’s going to feed the cattle or fix fences.” Meanwhile, she alleged, “ he’s having sex with prostitutes. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that’s his weakness. He was an elder in the church. But this elder is a fraud.”
Four sexworkers from Robertson and Worcester, confirmed they had engaged in sexual encounters with the farmer.
A 26-year-old, who did not want to be named, said: “I feel just like she (the wife) feels. He’s using her and he’s using me too. He’s not my boyfriend or my husband. He’s using me to satisfy himself.”
Another, 19-year old explained: “The auntie asked whether I knew him. I told her: ‘Yes, I’ve been away with him. If it’s auntie’s husband, I’m sorry.’
“I thought he might just give me the money (R150) without me having to do it. I’m prepared to tell him in his face I hate him. After I told him all my struggles, he still used me.”
The farmer told Weekend Argus: “But what do they want to testify? That I had sex with them? So if I had sex with them, why not?”
The father of three daughters and grandfather of seven said he had been “furious” with his wife. and had disowned her. “She would have inherited the farm if she was prepared to look after me until I die.”
He said he still loved her “but she’s driving me up the wall”.
“She’s looking for a rich man to look after her. She’s an absolutely attractive woman, sexy, she’s got everything in the right places. She’s well-spoken and highly intelligent. She knew exactly how to pull at my heartstrings.”
The woman’s lawyer, director at Abraham&Gross attorneys, Juan Smuts, said the sex workers could become Section 204 witnesses and be indemnified from prosecution by agreeing to become State witnesses against the husband.
Smuts said: “They (sex workers) are soft targets. The person who should be arrested is the buyer who creates the demand and pays them. The buyer is well-resourced and in an authoritative position.” The director of Sweat, the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Task Force, Sally Shackleton, said it was an unusual case.
She warned the sexworkers could open themselves up to prosecution if they became witnesses.
Their testimony would depend on them admitting to prostitution, which was still illegal.