Newly divorced woman fights for ex-husband’s body and property

Portia Mlilo
Silvia Thabo

A newly divorced woman, Silvia Thabo, has won a case in which she wanted to be allowed to lead funeral proceedings of her late ex-husband and claim all his property.

The 54-year-old Botswana Open University Coordinator, SADC, Centre for Distance Education, Chawapa Thabo, committed suicide while on a trip at the invitation of Botswana Ambassador to Namibia on November 4th.

At the time of his death, Thabo and the ex-wife, Silvia Thabo nee Moalosi had been granted a decree nisi for their divorce, which was issued on the 23rd of September by Justice Tshepo Motswagole of the Gaborone High Court.

According to the court order, the decree nisi was to be made absolute after 6 weeks.

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Thabo died on the last day of the 6th week.

A day after Thabo’s death, Silvia rocked up at his house in Ledumadumane in Gaborone where he lived with his niece and demanded her ‘husband’s property and insisted on leading funeral arrangements.

However Thabo’s sister, Shanganani Lisenda and other family members told her she is not the widow but a divorcee.

The 39-year-old Silvia from Mathangwane then immediately rushed to court and filed an urgent application to interdict the funeral before Justice Michael Leburu.

Silvia’s attorney Mooketsi Segaise argued that the 6 weeks of decree nisi was elapsing on that particular day of the incident.

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He said the day was within the time frame. Segaise went on to say the order was just a temporary document, not absolute, and that his client remains the wife of the deceased.

He said Thabo’s family has excluded his client from partaking in the funeral arrangement.

The family representative, attorney Karabo Mponang said Silvia did not show any intentions of reconciling with Thabo before death.

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She did not dispute that the last day of Thabo’s death can be included within 6 weeks but her argument was that there was no application of the intention to withdraw the divorce.

Before delivering the judgement, Justice Leburu implored the parties to find common ground and bury the deceased with the necessary dignity he deserves, so that his soul rests in peace.

Judge Leburu declared Silvia to be the deceased’ widow and that she seize and take custody of all of Thabo’s property.

He also ordered that Silvia shall plan, arrange and lead all the necessary arrangements for the funeral and burial of the deceased and that Botswana Police are ordered to enforce the orders.

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