Husband circulated former wife’s explicit tryst video

A tale of dishonesty and shadowy behaviour follows a bitter divorce.

A tale of dishonesty and shadowy behaviour follows a bitter divorce.

Published May 27, 2024


Durban — A court found that a husband wanted to use an explicit video showing his wife in a 45-minute-long tryst with another woman, while they had separated, as a “trophy” to embarrass and control her.

The names of the respondents have not been revealed.

Last week the Durban High Court ordered that the husband refrain from circulating or distributing the video, a portion of it or stills, as it was “offensive and despicable conduct”, which “humiliated, disgusted, terrified and ashamed” his wife.

He used his cellphone to record the footage in June 2019 that was captured by CCTV cameras fitted at their previous matrimonial home, which the wife occupied at the time. He shared the content with various people.

The couple had verbal exchanges once he told her about the video, also after a workman, who had fitted lights at their home, told her he had viewed it.

His response was: “ rid of that thing because it disgusted me.”

They divorced in 2020.

She was under the impression that the video had been deleted, moved on with her life, remarried and had a child with her new husband.

She was taken aback in April last year when an acquaintance told her that the former husband had shown the video to a previous girlfriend.

The informant spoke about a social gathering he had hosted at his home in January 2023, attended by mostly divorced men, where the video was played for his visitors.

In May 2023, she brought an urgent High Court application, which came before Judge Jacquline Henriques, for an interim order to restrain her former husband from distributing the content and deleting the video, which was granted.

Judge Henriques also ordered him to have his Apple iPhone analysed, within five days of her ruling, by an expert to confirm there were no recent shares or traces of the video on his phone. This order was made final by Judge Robin Mossop last Friday.

Prior to the separation, for security purposes, the couple had a network of CCTV cameras installed at the home, with the exception of the master bedroom and bathrooms. Footage on the hard drive could be viewed on a TV screen in the master bedroom.

They separated in the latter part of 2018, with the wife and their son occupying the matrimonial home.

The man was permitted access to the home by a domestic worker while his wife was away, without her consent or knowledge.

He went through footage in the master bedroom and came across his wife’s sexual encounter with an unknown woman in the lounge, which he recorded on his phone.

The man then requested an urgent meeting with her. During their meeting, he told her about the video lasting more than 60 minutes that he possessed, and she asked how he had obtained it.

He did not respond.

While it was not in dispute that he made the video, the court had to determine whether he captured the entire encounter, which the wife believed was between 45 minutes to an hour, because the man maintained he only captured about three minutes of footage.

The court also had to handle the matter of who he had shared the video with and whether he still had copies of it.

The woman said she was “mortified” when she first got wind of the video being shared when the workman informed her about it without any prompting.

The woman’s acquaintance committed to an affidavit the information she received about the video, which was included in court documents.

In his answering affidavit, the husband said the court action was “uncalled for” as it caused him to incur unnecessary legal fees and he no longer possessed the video.

He didn’t believe he had invaded his wife’s privacy by looking at the recordings in her absence. He had only come upon the encounter by chance and videoed it for about three minutes because she would not admit it.

The man denied showing the video to anyone, except for showing a thumbnail image to his girlfriend to allay fears that he might still have feelings for his former wife, and never threatened to show it to others.

He said: “I did nothing underhanded. We were married at the time and my son was living there.”

The husband claimed he was not provided much access to his son so he used the opportunity to look at the footage to establish whether there was something that could help him in his case for care and custody of the child.

The wife also presented a WhatsApp message where he indicated that the recording was over 45 minutes.

In spite of repeated requests, the wife said the man only presented his phone for analysis five months later.

The expert did not find the video on the handset but was not prepared to conclude that he did not have a copy of it because information on the phone could have been stored in a “cloud” and accessed via other devices.

Judge Mossop found it “strange” that the husband had signed out of his iCloud, iTunes and WhatsApp accounts before handing his phone to the expert, and said his overall defence made for “disturbing reading”.

“That he believed he was entitled to do what he did was gravely disturbing and no right whatsoever to inspect the contents of the hard drive. Her rights to privacy have been seriously compromised.”

Judge Mossop believed the evidence of the two witnesses who said the husband showed them the video. He said the husband was a “dishonest litigant”, and it was possible that the video still existed.

Sunday Tribune